Anoesis (2011-13) was an immersive experience about formal education, exams, success, failure and the systems that affect us. First premiered at Tramway and then supported by Creative Scotland to be presented as part of the Made in Scotland Showcase 2013 at the Edinburgh Festival where it was shortlisted for Total Theatre Award for Innovation with Junction 25 at Edinburgh Fringe. The script was later developed as part of the Conexus festival in Brazil with the British Council (2014).
Interested in looking at the systems that effect and control us in todays society the company focused on one system that they all had direct experience of to make a performance that asked questions such as, what does success look like? How do learn best? How can I achieve my potential? What is expected of me? This piece included audience participation throughout as the audience member was asked to remember what it was like to be in an exam environment by being placed ‘in role’ at the beginning of the show.
The concept for Anoesis was for the audience to take an exam. The show was staged to look like an oversized classroom, as soon as the audience entered they were in exam conditions and were led to sit on a bench behind one of two long very large wooden desks facing each other. In front of them there was a pen and a Standard Grade exam paper. Members of the cast wore white school shirts and back school trousers and trainers and were sitting on the benches amongst the audience. As the exam unfolded moments of performance emerged that allowed the audience to find out about the casts real experiences of school, their views of the education system, a playful dream sequence took place on top of the giant desks as the performers ran, cartwheeled, balanced and jumped along them.
The starting point for Anoesis was selected by the group through a process of exploration and discussion. We identified an interest in the systems we felt we were a part of and the ultimate pursuit of happiness. Another feeling was the need for us to challenge themselves to produce a piece that was more intimate than some of our previous ‘main stage’ work and allowed us direct contact and interaction with our audiences.
Anoesis was created for an audience of 40 people who are invited to sit facing each other side by side with the performers on two long tables in the context of an examination. As the piece unfolds the audience are registered, appraised, questioned, quizzed and required to participate in the exam to the sound of the ticking clock.