Current 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:

9 October – Old Fire Station, Oxford

10 October  – Octagon Unitarian Chapel, Norwich

11 October – East Norfolk Sixth Form College, Great Yarmouth

12 October – Bethesda Methodist Church, Cheltenham

16 October – Chesterfield Library Theatre

17 October – Holy Trinity Church, Shirebrook

19 October – Peel Centre, Dronfield

23 October – Christchurch, Great Yarmouth

24 October – The Undercroft, Peterborough

25 October – The Undercroft, Peterborough

27 October – Turner Hall, Newmarket

30 October – The Curve, Slough

2 November – Storey’s Field Centre, Cambridge

3 November – Kettering Arts Centre at St Andrew’s Church

7 November – Warndon Community Hub, Worcester

8 November – Whitworth Library, Rochdale

9 November – Halton Mill, Lancashire

10 November – 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.