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Take a paws beside history’s greats

An immersive public theatre production showing the remarkable ways pets through the ages have influenced the world has been launched by Blue Cross.

To celebrate how pets can change lives – and sometimes shape the course of human history as a result – a series of free performances will take place daily in Russell Square, central London, between Wednesday 28 June and Sunday 2 July.

The rarely-explored influence of pets on five of history’s greats – Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale, Andy Warhol, Albert Einstein and Freddie Mercury – will be portrayed by actors to anyone who sits beside them on the Blue Cross bench.

How Pets Changed The World: Five Plays is open for anyone to join at any point from midday until 4pm, with a new character occupying the blue bench each day ready to strike up conversation with passersby.

The public will witness Winston’s fortitude and cutting wit soften in describing the reciprocal nature of his bond with his pets during his period in government (even crediting them with helping him guide the country through its darkest days); hear how a shy Warhol deflected to his Dachshund, Archie in tricky social situations; and savour juicy details of the private phone conversations between Freddie Mercury and his beloved Blue Cross cat Delilah while the Queen frontman was on tour.

Audience members will also hear how Florence Nightingale's experience of getting a lame sheepdog back on all four paws determined her very future in medicine, and what influence physicist Albert Einstein's cat Tiger had on him as he developed groundbreaking theories which continue to steer the world of physics and astronomy today.

The schedule for How Pets Changed The World: Five Plays is as follows:

  1. Wednesday 28 June: Andy Warhol: Pups Of Pop Art
  2. Thursday 29 June: Florence Nightingale: How My Path Was Lit
  3. Friday 30 June: Freddie Mercury: Delilah - My Queen
  4. Saturday 1 July: Albert Einstein: Pet Theories
  5. Sunday 2 July: Winston Churchill: The PM And The Poodles
An actor playing Albert Einstein with a yoyo and a Dachshund

A Blue Cross spokesperson said: “At Blue Cross we believe every single pet rescued, rehabilitated or rehomed becomes a potential life-changer.

A group of actors with three dogs
The immersive theatre experience celebrates the impact of pets on our lives

“They are our motivators, confidantes, companions, playmates, teachers, and even healers. Maybe there is a promising future scientist or creative genius out there whose inspiration will be fired up by watching their kitten play – or maybe just a shy child who finds the friendship of a faithful furry friend gives them a new confidence.

“Pets are always there when we need them. So, for all that they give to us: it’s time to give back to pets in need.”

“Blue Cross provides veterinary care, specialist behaviour training and find loving, happy homes for pets in need, as well as providing education for current and future owners and pet bereavement support for those struggling to cope with the loss of a much-loved pet.”

The five historical personas being portrayed are among 10 great people in human history being celebrated by Blue Cross. Spanning the arts, science, politics and medicine, all of their lives were shaped by their pets. They are: 

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Albert Einstein
  • Anna Sewell
  • Andy Warhol
  • Anne Frank
  • Edward Elgar
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Freddie Mercury
  • Winston Churchill

Find out more about how pets influenced their lives here.