ACTive INquiry, the only theatre group in Scotland practicing and developing the techniques of the Brazilian theatre practitioner, director, writer and activist Augusto Boal, known as Theatre of the Oppressed, presents its new piece of Forum Theatre ‘Not for Profit’ this week in Edinburgh. Following the success of past theatrical projects with members of the Leith community, this new project also deals with current social issues. At the heart of the show is the burning question of the cause and alternatives to the public spending cuts.
Developed through workshops with members of the Leith community, the performance uses theatre, music and rhythm to tell the story of Mary and her fight to achieve her dreams in the current economic climate.
My first encounter with the group and participation in one of their Newsgroup workshops was this August at the Mobilise Festival (anti-cuts festival organised by UNISON, which ran along with the Fringe and EIF). The workshop focused on the slippery matter of terrorism and hooliganism in London and involved the intricate views of politicians, police, and participants in the riots. The workshop had a deliberately emphasized physical nature with peculiar emotional impact and raised a number of ethical, racial, and community questions.
The chilliness of Leith Circle (a local Leith art gallery) contrasted with the warmth of the performers and chuffed audience members when I stepped in at the first show of the play. I was instantly handed a green plastic tube – an instrument I did fancy a lot and used with a geeky amusement. Forum theatre is a participatory game – spectators become actors and initiators of theatrical action which in its essence aims at running a debate. The heating debate over the fate of Mary and what changes she could introduce in her life forked out into some unexpected and slightly shocking developments. Some of the audience members supported the opinion that ‘it is a class thing’, while others shared a few grudges about ‘Mary’s passivity’ and attempted to throw all the guilt at her family. Whatever the reason, the truth has always had many faces because of the many individual angles we look at it. Similarly to academic research topics, ‘Not for Profit’ raised more questions than provided answers.
The List has included the play in the ten best events this month. The Scottish playwright Jo Clifford cheered for the vital presence of ‘Not for Profit’ in this ‘age of austerity’ in which to resist temptations is important. Moreover, as a voice of the community, Active Inquiry will join the Occupy Edinburgh camp at St. Andrews Square this Saturday, 19 November, to explore, entertain and empower.
Tue 15th Nov 2011, 6pm, Leith Circle, 115 Leith Walk, Leith
Wed 16th Nov, 8pm, Leith Dockers Club, 17 Academy Street, Leith
Fri 18th Nov, 2.30pm, Dr Bell’s Family Centre, 15 Junction Place, Leith
Sat 19th Nov, 3pm, Occupy Edinburgh, St Andrew’s Square, Edinburgh
Sun 20th Nov, 2pm, The Out of the Blue Drill Hall, 36 Dalmeny Street, Leith
Wed 23rd Nov, 6pm, Punjab’n de Rasoi Cafe, 122 Leith Walk, Leith