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Notes from R&D week 10/12/12

Quarantine was established in 1998 by directors Richard Gregory and Renny O’Shea with designer Simon Banham. We make original theatre, performance and public events with and about the people who are in it. Whatever form it takes, our work begins and ends with the people in the room. Over the last 20 years, we've collaborated with a shifting constellation of artists, performers and people who've never done anything like this before. Our work seeks to create the circumstances for a conversation between strangers...

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Notes from R&D week 10/12/12

Posted: 21 December 2012

We’ve just spent a week in the Royal Exchange’s rehearsal rooms, sharing some thoughts and ideas – with the purpose of perhaps coming up with some kind of notion for a project we might make over the following year. We didn’t know what the outcome would be. We had some challenging, provocative and interesting conversations which are leading us towards some new ideas… More on that in the new year.

We were joined by Sonia Hughes, Swen Steinhauser, Alicia Talbot , Caroline Dubois-Heys, some of our board, Sarah Hunter – an MA student from Manchester University, staff from our core team, plus various members of staff from the Royal Exchange, and other invited folk – thanks to Tuheen Huda, Ryan Miller and Humberto Velez for giving up time to come and chat to us (especially after coming off a night shift Tuheen…).

We asked Sarah what remained after the week – here are some of her thoughts…

The things that have really stuck with me from last week are the idea of democracy as nothing more than a limited set of options and questions about ‘social etiquette’ and how this becomes ingrained into our bodies. I’ve been thinking about both particularly in relation to the layout of cities – the limitations on how people are allowed to move through these places that they live or visit and on the ‘acceptable’ behaviour that is permitted within these. It seems like cities are riddled with both written and unwritten codes for behaviour – everything from stop signs to locked gates to understandings of the places it is/is not acceptable to walk alone at night. I’ve been thinking about where these rules come from – it seems like a clear reflection of the fact that in a democracy these behavioural options are very rarely written by the people but instead are written by particular organizations or circulated by the media. The choices within these are limited – e.g adhere to the sign or be fined if you caught doing otherwise etc – but by adhering to them we in some way continue to create / contribute to these limitations. 
 
I think the above relates interestingly to theatre and Richard’s ideas on a show where evaluations/conversations about the show happen as part of the performance. It seems that almost achieving a democracy in a theatre space (in terms of the way democracy is reflected above) isn’t actually that desirable as that would just be a limited set of options presented in order to reach consensus. I think the idea of dissent is more interesting as it moves it beyond something democratic – it’s almost more like what is needed is a theatre space in which chaos could genuinely occur. But when people are largely so socially conditioned to follow rules etc. how is this achieved in a theatre space, which brings with it really clearly coded behavioural expectations? 
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