The Great Austerity Debate is coming to three Spot On venues in Lancashire this November. Part play, part political discussion, this show gives the audience the power to change the fate of a low income family after seeing how austerity has affected their lives.
The show, developed through research with the University of Cambridge, was created to be performed in the heart of communities; in village halls, libraries and community hubs. The tour in Lancashire sees Menagerie Theatre visiting three Spot On venues: Whitworth Library on Thursday 8 November at 7.30pm, Halton Mill on Friday 9 November 7.30pm, and The Bureau Arts Centre in Blackburn on Saturday 10 November at 7.30pm. Tickets are available directly from the venues or by calling 01254 660360 for Whitworth Library, 01524 289295 for Halton Mill and 07845 964802 for The Bureau. More information, including booking online is available via www.howard.local/spotonlancashire.
The audience follow Megan K. as she juggles low-paid work, ever-deeper debt, two kids and a fancy new red handbag. Moving between her home, her work and the Job Centre, audiences bear witness to her struggle as she navigates difficult relationships with her sister, her boss and her work coach at the Job Centre. The audience are then given the opportunity to reimagine the fate of the characters they see and the actors re-perform parts of the show based on the new storyline.
Patrick Morris, Artistic Director of Menagerie Theatre, explains how the play came about: “The Great Austerity Debate started as a collaboration with Mia Gray and Susan Smith from the University of Cambridge, who are currently engaged in research around the uneven application and effects of austerity. I took their research and wrote and directed a forum theatre piece called ‘A Life in the Week of Megan K.’, which undertook a pilot tour in 2016 to diverse venues around the country. As in all forum theatre pieces, we involved the audience as “spect-actors” or creative participants, helping to solve problems and answer the play’s thorny questions.”
He added: “It’s a real chance for people to become socially engaged with the issues surrounding austerity.”
Lyndsey Wilson, Programme Manager for Spot On, commented on the need for this kind of performance for Lancashire audiences: “We’re delighted to be bringing Menagerie Theatre to Halton, Whitworth and Blackburn this season. Forum theatre is a new experience for our programme and we hope our audiences feel inspired to have a go, but participation isn’t mandatory – come and watch, and for the brave souls, get involved!”