How we work

Each new piece of work from Quarantine finds its own form – playing with and dismantling conventions about how theatre should be made and experienced. Often it doesn’t look like theatre but we carry our knowledge and interest in dramaturgy into everything we make. It always comes back to the live encounter: creating the circumstances for an exchange between people who might not otherwise meet. Over the years we’ve realised that our job is to create the frame for that encounter and somehow hold it, shape it, populate it – making a space for an active and unpredictable co-presence between the people on “stage” and the audience. We’re trying to make the conditions for moments that might help each of us to understand something about the other, and thus – perhaps – ourselves. We’ve found that what emerges live works best when it’s beyond our control…

We’ve developed a distinctive approach to making work with and about the people who are in it – whether that’s skilled artists and performers, or people who’ve never done anything like this before. These are individuals, each with their own story, rather than interpreters of somebody else’s ideas. We’ve collaborated with philosophers, florists, members of parliament, dancers, chefs, children, architects, plumbers, refugees, hairdressers and dozens more. Questions of representation are at the heart of what we do: who’s seen, who’s heard and who stands in place for whom… If you were to stand in front of the crowd, what would you say?

What an unlikely, extraordinary, exquisite, gentle, ambitious, humble, surprising thing.

As an audience member (& first-timer to your work), it felt... monumental and understated. A very very very big show: deceptively simple, light touch, but of a scale (resource-wise) that is far and few between in this country. And also something that is also very very obviously necessary for democracy – like, every city should have some form of this, every 2 to 3 years, right? Like: how else could we all possibly work together, gather, vote, make decisions, bear to live and work alongside one another? It was casual, practical, transparent – it was 'everyday' and entrancing. It knew which work to expose, and which to tidy away. 

It was glorious.

I brought along a friend who's never seen any performance before. He had a fantastic time. I had a fantastic time! Our friendship had a good time!”

At heart, Quarantine’s work is about the privilege of witnessing a person responding in the moment, thinking, making choices, knowing they’re being witnessed, trying to ‘be themselves’ in an out-of-the-everyday situation. The awkward, joyous and profoundly generous act of that. Acting, in that other, wider sense of the word….

Quarantine are an Associate Company at HOME, Manchester. We are a registered charity and receive regular funding from Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation that contributes to our core costs. We rely on earned income from commissions and touring, grants from trusts and foundations, and donations from generous individuals to make our work. You can support what we do here. We value every single contribution – it helps us to make new things and explore ideas without restriction.

links and resources

Richard Gregory and Sarah Hunter of Quarantine talk to Dr Michael Pinchbeck and Connor Goodwin of Manchester School of Art about 12 Last Songs.
Lyn Gardner and Artistic Director Richard unpack the process of creating a dramaturgy of reality.
Artistic Director Richard delivers the opening address at the festival, exploring how risk and failure are vital principles of creativity and in daily life.