Previous Projects

The Great Austerity Debate

Forum Theatre Project 2016-2019

National Tour: October-November 2018

Pilot Tour: October-November 2016

Director: Patrick Morris

Partners: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge

Academic Collaborators: Dr Mia Gray and Professor Susan Smith.

The Great Austerity Debate started as a collaboration with Mia Gray and Susan Smith, who are currently engaged in research around the uneven application and effects of austerity.   Patrick Morris wrote and directed a forum theatre piece, A Life in the Week of Megan K.  From our successful pilot of the project, we created a national tour in October – November 2018.  We worked in partnership with a number of organisations, including: Junction Arts in Chesterfield, Spot-On Touring in the North-West and Eastern Angles in our own region.  Further support for the tour came from local authorities and venues themselves, many of which are volunteer-led organisations who operate creatively at the local level.  Major support came from Arts Council England.

Audiences got involved at every event and in so many different ways.  At the end of each night, we invited suggestions for new laws or policies which might act as alternatives to austerity.  We’ve gathered them all together and sent them out to people who saw the show.  Here they are, by venue and by theme – and it makes for fascinating reading.   For a broader reaction, click here for the impact of the piece on audiences, venues and partners.  Click here and listen to direct audience responses from our Shirebrook performance.

The tour involved so many small and large acts of goodwill from venues and audiences across the country.  Meeting those audiences, on such a creative and intimate level, every night was a privilege for those of us on tour, and we are particularly grateful to those who turned out to watch the show and participate in the forum.

2018 Tour Project Credits:

Writer, Director & Joker: Patrick Morris

Performers: Neal Craig, Caroline Rippin, Hayley Wareham

Composer and Production Manager: Ashley Day

Designer: Fiona Rigler

Assistant Stage Manager: Myah Morris-Drake

Mia Gray and Susan Smith, our two collaborators, toured with the project.  Their areas of research and their questions inspired the content and narrative of the piece and the performances themselves have influenced their ongoing work.  They will be writing a piece for the journal, Politics and Society, with their own take on the tour, audience involvement and how it feeds into their research.

As in all forum theatre pieces, we involved the audience as “spect-actors” or creative participants, helping to solve problems to the play’s thorny questions.  This film from the pilot project documents some of their reactions.


2018 Touring Dates and Venues:

Old Fire Station, Oxford; Octagon Unitarian Chapel, Norwich; East Norfolk Sixth Form College, Great Yarmouth; Bethesda Methodist Church, Cheltenham; Chesterfield Library Theatre; Holy Trinity Church, Shirebrook; Peel Centre, Dronfield; Christchurch, Great Yarmouth; The Undercroft, Peterborough; Turner Hall, Newmarket; The Curve, Slough; Storey’s Field Centre, Cambridge; Kettering Arts Centre at St Andrew’s Church; Warndon Community Hub, Worcester; Whitworth Library, Rochdale; Halton Mill, Lancashire; The Bureau, Blackburn.

Great Austerity Debate - Web3Forum Theatre was invented and developed by Brazilian theatre director, writer and activist Augusto Boal (1931-2009), most famously articulated in his book, Theatre of the Oppressed.  The event is hosted by the ‘Joker’, whose job it is to encourage ‘spect-actor’ participation without suggesting a specific course of action.  The Joker prods, provokes, questions and challenges people to try out specific suggestions.   In this way, a group of people can ‘rehearse’ different futures and explore which choices might be the best in a given situation.  Forum Theatre aims to empower people to be imaginative, courageous and articulate in their attempts to solve particular social, political or cultural problems.  There are many exponents of Theatre of the Oppressed around the world – we have used Boal’s model as a robust and provocative tool to empower lay audiences to engage deeply with complex academic questions which have clear social and economic connections.

The Pilot – 2016

We piloted the project in October-November 2016.  Read a response here to our performance at Unite the Union in London.  And click here for a glance at some tour stats.   We toured to the following venues:

  • Cambridge Festival of Ideas – St Paul’s Church
  • Great Yarmouth Community Trust – Priory Centre
  • Ireshopeburn Literary Institute, County Durham
  • University of Wolverhampton
  • University of East Anglia
  • Unite the Union, London and Eastern Regional Office.

Is there a Doctor in the House?

Performance and Forum Theatre 2019

Director: Patrick Morris

Partner: University College London (UCL) School for Primary Care Research

Collaborators: Dr Sophie Park and Dr Ruth Abrams

This project honed in on the GP-patient relationship, particularly around important issues relating to delegated home visits.  We adapted the script of ‘Not Quite Right’ (see below), to produce a forum theatre event at the Bloomsbury Theatre in October 2019.  The action of the play focussed on a paramedic being delegated by a GP to carry out a home visit, and the consequences of this decision as the patient worked their way through the health system.   The audience included healthcare practitioners, students, patients and the general public.  Sophie Park and Ruth Abrams will be presenting their own analysis of this process at the Social Research Association Conference in November 2021.  

Not Quite Right

Performance and Forum Theatre 2017-19

Director: Patrick Morris

Partner: The Healthcare Improvement Studies (THIS) Institute, University of Cambridge

Collaborators: Professor Mary Dixon-Woods, Joann Leeding, Helen Gardner

The Ideas Stage and THIS Institute collaborated initially for the launch of THIS Institute in January 2018.  We drilled down into some of the fundamental research questions they were asking, to create ‘Not Quite Right’.  This was the story of a couple’s journey through the health system when one of them suffers a stroke, told through a series of key snapshot scenes along the way.  The project’s aim was to provoke debate about systematic challenges within the NHS.  We worked with Craig Baxter on the script for Not Quite Right, which also received expert input from paramedics, hospital doctors, GPs and nurses – a truly collaborative Ideas Stage script!  Following the successful launch we worked with THIS Institute to create workshops, a film and instructional resources on how to use the play in teaching and engagement settings.  We worked with the Point of Care Foundation, the McPin Institute and the Western Health Trust in Derry to present the workshops.  Audiences included many different grades of NHS workers, patients groups, policy analysts, researchers.

To view the Interactive Video, read the Director’s Notes and the Facilitator’s Guide click here and download pdfs from the page.

Human Rights! Bloody Human Rights!

Forum Theatre Project 2012-14

Director: Patrick Morris

Partners: School of Law, Queen Mary University of London and Amnesty International.

Collaborator: Alan Dignam, Professor of Corporate Law, QMUL

Human Rights! Bloody Human Rights! was our first Ideas Stage project to use forum theatre.  In this project, it was to explore complex and pressing questions around corporate human rights law.  In workshops jokered (facilitated)  by Patrick Morris, we invited audiences to engage directly with the questions thrown up by Alan Dignam’s research which he had distilled into 3 short, provocative plays.  Through performance, vigorous debate, rehearsal of new ideas, and challenges to the characters on stage, the audiences (or ‘spect-actors’) then devised new legislation which formed part of the project’s ultimate documentation.  This allowed the ‘spect-actors’, many of whom had no background in either law or academia, to fully debate and engage with the issues.

Human Rights! Bloody Human Rights! toured the workshop to the following locations:

  • Queens University, Belfast
  • University College, Dublin
  • Amnesty International, London
  • QMUL, London
  • Festival of Ideas, Cambridge

Video- how to create a Human Rights Forum Theatre project

Video- Afterthoughts on the project

This project remains live and we are currently developing plans for international workshops in 2017.  Watch this space and please contact Patrick Morris with any questions.

For more information on the project, visit the project website here.



Pictures of You – ‘What’s Up Doc? Commission 2015-16

Directors: Paul Bourne & Patrick Morris

Dramaturg: Patrick Morris

Partner: MRC-Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge

Collaborators: Professor Emily Holmes and Dr Martina di Simplicio

Pictures of You was Menagerie’s main ‘What’s Up Doc?’ commission at the 2015 Hotbed Festival.  Collaborators Emily Holmes and Martina di Simplicio are researchers into intrusive mental imagery in bipolar disorder and have published widely on the subject.  The text was written by Craig Baxter, a long-time Menagerie associate.

Inspired by their work, Pictures of You explores the differences between verbal and visual thinking, the close relationship between mental imagery and emotion, the effect of intrusive mental images (of both the past and the future) on those who experience them and ways mental imagery can be used in therapy to help them.

Craig Baxter was also fascinated by the links between the imaginative world of theatre and the latest ideas from the neuroscience and psychology of human thought and emotion. Does a play’s script consist of a sequence of words that the characters say? Or are the words mere captions for a series of dynamic images? What is more important for producing emotional engagement with an audience: the words the actors say or the images they create?

Pictures of You was further developed for an interactive event at the MRC-CBU during the Cambridge Science Festival in March 2016.  We are working with Dr di Simplicio to explore the potential of clinical settings for future performances.

What’s Up Doc? (2013)

Partners: Individual academics including Prof. Guy Brown (Univ of Cambridge), Prof. Denise Ferreira da Silva (QMUL), Dr Devorah Baum (Univ of Southampton).

20-minute monologues created from collaboration between playwright and academic.  Performed at Hotbed Festival, Cambridge and toured to Soho Theatre, London.


Acts of Kindness (2013)

Partner: Darwin Correspondence Project

A day of readings from a new play in development, The Altruists, by Craig Baxter, alongside presentations from scientists, science historians and philosophers whose work intersects with the play’s themes.  Part of the Cambridge Science Festival 2013.

Programme for Science Festival – Draft2

Let Newton Be! (2009-12)

Partner: Faraday Institute at the University of Cambridge.

Verbatim play drawn from the writings of Isaac Newton.  Toured UK science festivals and universities in Canada and USA.  Reviewed in ScienceNature, and the Times Higher Educational

Click here to read more about the production.


Re:Design (2007-10)

Partner: Darwin Correspondence Project at the University of Cambridge.

Verbatim play drawn from letters between Charles Darwin and Asa Gray (Harvard University), commissioned for the Darwin 200th anniversary and performed as part of the Cambridge 800 celebrations.  Toured the UK, USA, Canada and Turkey.  Reviewed in Science