Current events

Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

The human life that’s here: A Symposium investigating Quarantine’s Quartet

Date September 29, 2016 @ 6:00 pm - September 30, 2016 @ 3:00 pm
Quarantine’s Quartet was a major international performance event, staged at the Old Granada Studios, Manchester, on 26 March and 2 April 2016. It comprised four pieces of work – Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring – developed by the company over a two year period. Whilst each show was originally performed separately, together they constitute a sustained enquiry into the performance of ‘life’ – individual and collective, conceived through the passing of ‘seasons’ – and the ‘life’ made manifest in and through performance. As such, Quartet might be understood to be a single work investigating how the lived experience of everyday lives might be brought to the stage through the logic of presentation rather than representation; by ordinary people occupying the space of theatrical performance rather than seeing their lives being performed by others.
At the same time, Quartet might be seen as much an enquiry into the nature of theatrical performance as it is into the performance of ordinary people and everyday life. By continually investigating the ways in which the theatrical frame conditions and mediates the modes of appearance of those who appear within it, it resists recourse to any naïve logic of performer presence through repeatedly insisting on interrogating the representational effects of the theatrical apparatus.
This Symposium, drawing on contributions from the Quarantine creative team (Richard Gregory/Simon Banham), performers (Leentje Van de Cruys/Cristina Delgado-García) and spectators (Joslin McKinney/ Adrian Kear), seeks to examine how the work functioned from a variety of perspectives, and to re-stage some of its essential questions:
  • How does the structure of the dramaturgy organise the idea of a life/lives lived through performance?
  • In what ways is the ‘liveness’ of the theatre event integral to its composition?
  • To what extent do the performers appear as themselves, and how do they experience themselves performing?
  • How does the scenography construct and draw attention to the specific nature of the theatrical event and extended relational modes of encounter?
  • What are the ways in which spectators are invited to participate in the work, and to what extent do they experience themselves as its co-creators?

Pre-symposium reception and Keynote lecture, ‘Staging the People: Performance, presence and representation’ (Adrian Kear, TFTS)

This lecture will seek to set-up and investigate a key question at the heart of the inter-relation between politics and aesthetics: the inevitable gap and potential conflict between presence and representation made manifest in the internal contradictions and recurrent tensions of the ‘distribution of the sensible’ (Rancire 2004: 12). It will examine how the practice of ‘staging the people’ might be considered central to imaging and constituting ‘the people’ in an increasingly theatricalised social formation and to managing their ‘political claim’ (Rancière 1999: 87—88)

If the theatrical logic of democratic representation is dependent upon the exercise of a political claim to represent ‘the people’; coextensively, the performative construct of ‘the people’ is dependent on the aesthetic logic of representation and its capacity to frame, codify and remediate the presence of people per se.  Enacted through representation—recalling Marx’s dictum in the Eighteenth Brumaire that ‘they cannot represent themselves, they must be represented’—‘the people’ nonetheless remain different from, and in excess of, any particular representation or mode of representation. As Rancière insists, ‘the people’ are ‘always more or less than the people’; the locus of an ‘internal division’ and index of the unbridgeable gap between presence and representation that constitutes politics’ primary condition and site of operation (1999: 22, 87).
This gap, the lecture will argue, appears—and re-appears—as a tear in the very fabric of the visible; as a crisis of representation ‘in representation’ (Frank 2010: 35) that exceeds and undermines the normalising effects of politics as show. It thereby serves to re-open representation as the ground of the political as such, and as the site of its re-appearance within the otherwise bounded theatricality of the representational regime.

The argument will build on comparative analysis of two contemporary theatre works explicitly concerned with ‘staging the people’, performed in Manchester and Salford in the Spring of 2016: Quarantine’s Quartet and Rimini Protokoll’s 100% Salford. Both works examine how the lived experience of everyday lives might be brought to the stage through an apparent logic of presentation rather than representation: by ordinary people occupying the space of theatrical performance rather than seeing themselves and their lives represented by others (i.e. ‘actors’ – whether theatrical or political). Following the reading of these (pre-Brexit) works, the lecture seeks to question whether the aesthetic shift towards self-presentation might correlate with a broader critique of the structures of political representation, or whether the frame of representation anticipates, accommodates and appropriates the materiality of presence in advance.


The Symposium is held in conjunction with the Wallflower Quarantine residency, The Foundry studio, Department of Theatre Film and Television Studies, Aberystwyth University, 1 – 7 October 2016. Quarantine will spend a week developing their latest touring work Wallflower in Aberystwyth. At the end of the week’s residency there will be two open performances at 19.00 – 20.30pm on Thursday 6th October and 14.00 – 19.00 Friday 7th October. Wallflower is an attempt to recall every dance you’ve ever danced.  This work was first explored with MA students in the TFTS department before being fully developed for the premiere at the Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival, Groningen, NL. Recently returned from the Göteborgs Dans & Teater Festival in Sweden, Quarantine will continue to develop Wallflower in Aberystwyth, supported and observed by the students in the Department before its UK premiere as part of Dance Umbrella at Battersea Arts Centre, London.


September 29, 2016 @ 6:00 pm
September 30, 2016 @ 3:00 pm
Event Category:


Performance and Politics International Research Centre
Theatre, Film and Television Studies


The Foundry Studio
Parry-Wlliams Building
Aberystwyth, SY23 3AJ United Kingdom
+ Google Map


PPi moves

From the end of June 2018, the Performance and Politics international (PPi) research centre will be moving. Professors Jenny Edkins and Adrian Kear are leaving Aberystwyth University, and are working to re-establish PPi...