Grace tried to squeeze a city into a theatre. It was a big epic show in which we poked around for a moment of grace through a chaos of stolen ideas, wilful energy and a handful of achingly beautiful images. Grace is perhaps the most presentational piece Quarantine has made so far – 12 performers on a big stage, watched by an audience in seats.
Why we made Grace
“I wanted to make Grace as a companion piece to White Trash and Butterfly – those shows where we started with groups of people who obviously had something that tied them together then, through the process, tried to excavate individuality. In Grace I set myself the task of working from perhaps the opposite direction. There was a mother and her 3 year old son, a singer in his sixties, a young Somali woman (Yusra Warsama, who was later in Make-believe), an elegant mixed race Mancunian (Darren Pritchard – of Susan & Darren), an Australian woman who’s 3 feet tall, a father of two who’s half Spanish, a feisty dancer from Newcastle and a Manchester guitar band (The Permissive Society). I deliberately put together a collection of people who apparently had little in common, and tried to explore what connects us and what divides us.
It came out of a time when I’d been living away from Manchester for a while. I’d return regularly and always be struck by a number of things – the filth of the city, its aggressive energy, the incredible range of people, the constant thud of music from somewhere, big television screens in the street. A city I love and hate.
Like it or not, the reality of the world I live in right now confronts me on a daily basis with people whose culture, beliefs, lifestyle, politics, experience and history is likely to be very different to my own. This is how life is in the city. Global capitalism and patterns of migration have evolved this world. I don’t have to pretend it’s all easy, that there aren’t times when I feel afraid or resentful of change. But I recognise that I simply have to get on with the process of sharing some space.
Alongside the production, we made a project called Grace Notes. I was aware that the constraints of budget and practicality meant that we could only have a tiny sample of a city’s population to perform in Grace. I was wary of the hermetically sealed environment of a rehearsal room. I wanted to find ways to let fresh air in. I invited writer Sonia Hughes (who since worked with us on Susan & Darren) to create a parallel project called Grace Notes. Sonia came into rehearsal with us, listening to and contributing to our process. She’d take our questions out into the world, working with lawyers, cleaners, a group of homeless people, a policewoman, an elderly people’s dance group – and many more – asking our questions of them and finding brilliantly inventive and appropriate ways to bring their responses back into our rehearsal room.”
Richard Gregory, Director
Quarantine consistently pull off such inexplicably transcendent moments... The group's work has a poetic integrity to which ordinary critical methods no longer apply. All in all, Grace is less of a play than a state. Alfred Hickling, The Guardian
Credits and performance details
Performers: Alex Elliott, Charlotte Grant, Chanje Kunda, Nyah Kunda, Darren Pritchard, Kiruna Stamell, Maurice Walsh, Yusra Warsama, with live band The Permissive Society.
Director Richard Gregory; designer Simon Banham; choreographer Leo Kaye; writer Steve Finbow; lighting designer Mike Brookes; sound designer Dan Steele.