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Talking to each other…

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...

Quarantine
PO Box 573
Manchester
England
M32 2BZ

Talking to each other…

Posted: 11 June 2012

We’ve said in the past that what our work probably boils down to is trying to create the circumstances for a conversation between strangers.  Whether this happens in the bar after a show, as an interaction during performance or is integral to the event itself, what interests us is the chance encounter, the unexpected tangent in an exchange.  We set the ball rolling but we don’t know where it will end up…  

Food is a great lubricant of course.  When Renny was making EatEat she said that when we talk about food we talk about everything.  This maxim has fuelled a number of Quarantine projects, including Rantsoen, Coming and going and, most recently, Kitchen Project…

Last week she and I spent three long lunchtimes in the fabulous Kabana curry café in the centre of Manchester.     Much as we’re prone to do this anyway (or at least we did when we lived round the corner), this wasn’t just pure greed – it was for No Such Thing, the 7th and last event in Laura Mansfield and Swen Steinhauser’s Seven Sites project.  These cross-artform events in unusual places were set up to ‘facilitate pockets of encounter and dislocation from the everyday”.

We decided to distill our love for the simple encounter down to its purest form – so we advertised that we’d buy people a curry lunch in exchange for a conversation.  We had lots of takers. And plenty of curry…

We loved it.  We talked about:

freedom, moving to China, death, hotdesking, emotional miserliness, Micah Richards… abandoning architecture for guitar-making, how much space being on the dole offers… planting wild flowers, building a wall, bankruptcy, Fire in Babylon, bad art, Kabana’s opening party in 1982, learning Mandarin, business rates… time spent alone, Norwich…stolen chilli sauce, boiling wood, a food club with 500 members, the Dalai Lama… lipsticks and eyeliner, sisters & fathers, Jerry Dammers, eulogies and child-rearing… babies as shoplifting decoys, fishing as meditation, mushroom picking, living in a house with no roof…

There was more of course.  

We were asked (and asked ourselves) what we might do with all of this.  Maybe we might turn it into a text.  Or think about it as research for another project…

But actually, most interestingly, it just is what it is – a conversation between strangers, over a curry.  We don’t feel the need to embellish or transform it, to somehow justify its happening or validate it as art by making it something other. It was (more than) good enough.

We’ve talked about continuing the project regularly.  So at some point next month, we’ll do it again.  And just see what grows over time.  Riz, who runs Kabana, was incredibly helpful and relaxed about us occupying a corner of his café. Thanks Riz.

When we get a moment we’ll add No Such Thing to our new website.  We’re excited and a little daunted and as yet unfamiliar with all the possibilities it offers us – we stressed to Jo and Martin at Corporation Pop that we wanted this new site to be a space for conversation and a rich resource for people who might be interested in what we do.  We think they’ve done a great job.

All we need to do now is start some conversations…

Fancy a curry?

 

Posted by Richard Gregory

 

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