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Make-Believe
Quarantine
1B, Basil Chambers
65 High Street
Manchester
England
M4 1FS

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...

Make-Believe

Proper theatre curtains, a hill of old clothes and 30 green plastic chairs. There are 5 performers, including a 2 year-old boy and his parents.  The audience eat ice cream, describe the history of the world from the very beginning and an air band play Guns N’ Roses…

With 5 extraordinary performers including a 2 year-old boy and his parents, Make-believe asked some tricky questions about birth, death and everything in between. 

How do we decide what’s true? How do we manage to live together when we disagree so wildly with each other? Do we separate the real from the made-up in a piece of theatre?

Why we made Make-believe

“Over the last few years I’ve become aware that some of the beliefs and values I’d pinned myself to in my teens and twenties were really not so certain anymore.  

I wanted to make something that challenged me and those I work with (and audiences maybe) to think about where our beliefs come from and how we act upon them.  The piece also became about performance.  I’ve found myself increasingly unwilling to suspend my disbelief when I’m sat in a theatre, more likely to dwell on who the actor is and what they might be really thinking about rather than what their fictional character was saying.  It’s only in the live encounter that I have this problem – I can lose myself in a film as thoroughly as ever.  But when I’m in a room with real live performers I want a different kind of relationship.

I invited one of my oldest friends (Dr Michael Brady, lecturer in philosophy at Glasgow University) to join us in the process.  I’ve known Mike since I was 19.  He came into rehearsals and asked us a series of near-impossible questions.  We scrabbled away at what we were trying to get at, discarding “believability”, “honesty” and “authenticity” en route, and arrived at an aspiration – we wanted to make a performance that had a quality of truthfulness.  

Make-believe was a piece of theatre that wore its pretence firmly on its sleeve – and, I think, somehow felt truthful despite (or indeed because of) that.”         

Richard Gregory, Director

 

Resources available

  • A performer’s perspective: Amy Guest, from the Centre for Applied Theatre Research at the University of Manchester, interviewed members of the cast and creative team of Make-believe for an essay on the relationship between contemporary performance and applied theatre.  This is an extract of Amy’s interview with Make-believe performer Lowri Evans. 
  • ……impossible things before breakfast: Created by Quarantine’s designer Simon Banham during the rehearsals for Make-believe this CD Rom presents fragments of ideas and beginnings exploring the construction of a piece of theatre by Quarantine.  


 

“This is beautiful work, delivered like a new-born baby into the world with discoveries to make and places to go.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian, November 2009

Credits and performance details

Performers: Lowri Evans, Marcus Hercules, Johanne Timm, Jeziel Warsama, Yusra Warsama

Director Richard Gregory; designer Simon Banham; writer Sonia Hughes; choreographer Johanne Timm; lighting designer Mike Brookes; sound designer Greg Akehurst.

Production details

Make-believe was a co-production with Contact, Manchester and first performed there in November 2009.  It toured in England to Leeds, Taunton, Coventry, Lancaster, Exeter and Bristol.

Notebook