See-Saw, Quarantine’s first show, was made at Tramway in Glasgow in 2000, with 75 people from Glasgow. The whole performance took place from within the two opposite seating banks, with performers and audience intermingled. The youngest performer was 5 weeks old when we started rehearsal, the eldest 75. They were a mix of people from all kinds of backgrounds. Some of them were experienced performers, most of them had never done anything like this before.
At Pollockshields East station, just down Albert Drive from Tramway, a man holding a bunch of flowers waited for trains to arrive. Across the road from the theatre, a group of teenage boys were flirting, throwing chips at a group of girls. A middle-aged man with a quiff was standing in the shadows, his long coat just about covering his Elvis costume. There was milk spilt in the theatre doorway. All of this was part of See-Saw.
Why we made See-Saw
In many ways I think of See-Saw, our first piece, as the quintessential Quarantine project. Its form was new and surprising for its audience; it placed audience and performers in an intimate relationship framed by the epic scale of Tramway 1; it was firmly located in Glasgow and the lives of people we worked with; its performers were from a huge range of ages and social backgrounds; it had music, dancing, a fragmented text and a trajectory that was based more on emotional arcs than trying to tell a story. And it had an Elvis impersonator.
At the beginning of the show, when the curtain had fallen, we deliberately had nothing happen for 5 minutes. The audience sat and stared at each other. At every performance, at least a couple of people would wave, trying to catch their own reflection in what they thought was a giant mirror…
…and at the end of each performance, when applause came, nobody wanted to stop. It went on for minutes – not necessarily as a tribute to the quality of the experience, but because people were clapping each other: the people next to them and around them and opposite them, and probably themselves.
One day, knowing what we do now, I hope that we’ll do See-Saw again, and see what happens…
Richard Gregory, Director.
In a single spatial metaphor, See-Saw laid down the manifesto of Quarantine’s work. We sat in an auditorium facing a red velour theatre curtain. We waited for the show. The curtain parted and there in front of us was another audience, who had entered through a different door to see the same show. I don’t know if a theatre company has ever made such a single clear statement of its interests and aesthetic. John E McGrath, Artistic Director, National Theatre Wales
Credits and performance details
Concept & direction: Richard Gregory; Designer: Simon Banham; Smell designer: Renny O’Shea; Composer: Olly Fox; Dramaturg: Matthew Dunster; Choreographer: Jane Mason; Lighting designer: Lucy Carter; Project animateur: Donna Rutherford.
See-Saw was commissioned by and first performed at Tramway, Glasgow in June 2000. It was devised during an 8 week residency with 75 people who live in Glasgow.