I am currently in my second and final semester working towards a MA in Screen Studies. When I learned about the opportunity of doing a placement as part of my Master’s degree at the University of Manchester, I immediately knew that it would not just be beneficial to my CV to take it. However, with my main interests lying in film rather than theatre, finding a suitable placement from within the drama department started off as being relatively difficult. I decided to apply for Quarantine’s archive assistant placement because I knew that through archiving and administrative work I could gain some skills that will be beneficial to my CV.
I entered Islington Mill in Salford with only a vague idea of what to expect. Passing an array of what could debatably be called amateur art works, the distinct smell of wax crayons crept into my nose and ultimately into every fibre of my clothing to accompany me for the rest of the day. Luckily who welcomed me into the office was a lot more inviting than their colourful yet grim surroundings. Getting introduced to the team and being given a short overview over Quarantine’s work, I started to realise how little I actually knew about theatre. In the process of archiving material from their catalogue of projects I have got to know the company and what it stands for a little bit better. When I entered the company with a list of stereotypical ideas on what theatre should look like (think Shakespeare’s Macbeth at the Globe: a stage, an audience in front of it, some timely costumes and a little touch of epicness…), I was amazed to find that nothing Quarantine does resembles this in the slightest. I have had to mentally redefine my understanding of the term ‘theatre’ approximately 150 times until I came to the conclusion that – for me – this is what Quarantine is about: the potential inherent in the changing perspectives on art & the artist in this world to create something that resonates in present and future. (I’ve probably not quite figured it out yet, but as long as it keeps me thinking I shouldn’t be completely wrong?)
Apart from doing some admittedly tedious archival work, I also wrote a blog post for the company’s website, developed a Wikipedia page, compiled a press list, tagged along to meetings and translated some project dossiers into German. I can confidently say that during my 4 months at Quarantine I didn’t only learn some administrative skills or improved my basic understanding of theatre, I also realised first hand that art in general is pretty hostile towards being put in explicitly labelled boxes. Quarantine certainly doesn’t fit into any box. I discovered that theatre doesn’t need a physical stage and that I do need to up the stage my current culture level is dwelling on… I get reminded of this whenever a subtle scent of crayon creeps up on me. (Which by all means shouldn’t stop next year’s placement students to apply to Quarantine, rumour has it that they’ll be moving into a sleek city centre office in the very near future…)
Find out more about Quarantine and their relevant and inspiring work on http://www.qtine.com.