Cardboard Citizens brought their new hostel tour onto campus this evening and gave us a really great show. Once again it's very good to see a packed house and professional companies enjoying the experience of performing for our students.
The company, most of whose membership are or have experienced homelessness, are now the foremost practitioners of forum theatre in the UK. This means their shows are always interactive - a dialogue merging the boundary between stage and auditorium. Firstly a personal story is acted out, normally of an injustice or oppression, and left in unresolved state. On a second playing the audience are encouraged to intervene, joining the actors on stage as the protagonist to improvise alternative strategies so that defeat can be avoided.
Tonight the company offered us three short case studies to work on, all based on true testimony and scripted into dramatic form by playwright Sarah Woods.
In the end the audience opted to work with the story of Rowena, a Filipino nanny, who had left her own daughter in Manila to come to London and work with a family who kept her in virtual slavery. Although, in the short time we had to play, we couldn't find a way out for Rowena - the economics of her situation made it incredibly hard - the act of exploring the story revealed some chilling facts about migrant labour in the UK that helped the audience challenge their own assumptions.
After the get out the company joined us in the Union for a pint and chatted to the students, generously answering questions about their practice and experiences for two hours... invaluable time. We finally waved their van off at half eleven.