Posts Tagged ‘library function’

The Grain escape has lift off !!


Want a free cake ? EARN IT !

                    “take any empty space and call it a stage”

Peter Brook, has perfectly described the kind of transformation that took place on the day of our performance. It was a completely empty space at 6 o’clock in the morning and within a few hours it was transformed. As the day went on the visitors of the cafe i would consider them to be perforning, whether that was performing tasks or even getting into the role of the upper class or working class.
We started letting people into the cafe at 9 o’clock to give true sense of the working day returning to the history of a 9 – 5 day of mundane work in the factory/ cafe.
As we started letting people into the cafe and designating classes to the visitors we had some interesting responses that we recorded via the device we had in the cafe at the beginning of the day and some of the customers said things like;


“ have I been put into working class because of what I am wearing ?”
“so I have to work for the cake and they’ve just been given it?”

The visitors of the café had already in half an hour received a good impression of the injustice in the class system, the message was getting across. By 11 o’clock the café was buzzing with people and not only were we actually managing to create a class awareness we were also bringing a huge sense of community into the library and people mentioned the change in atmosphere that everyone was feeling.
To have that much of an impact on the space surrounding ours was something we were all proud of. The grain escape had taken inspiration from so many inspirational movements that we did not realise of café could have an impact.2
We also noticed from the audio recordings that even though the upper classes were receiving a first class service and being waited on that they also felt an injustice for them not receiving their cakes in the same ways as the people who had to work for their cakes;

“so I just have to sit here,
I don’t have to do anything ?”
“you don’t want me to move grain or anything
I feel like I should be doing something “

This division was especially heightened by the circuit that the working class people went round. The working class moved their grain, got their cake, if they worked well got a cup of tea and because we felt that the working class warehouse workers in 1907 onward were working towards their pay cheques and holidays we made the working class a “Utopia” to put their dreams on a board and have a photo with.


Tom Baker ‘grow old and stay happy’

 After hav7ing a photo and being documented into the café everyone who had been in the café that day put their name badges on their cups and hung them on the washing line to leave their mark on the library and to be humanised rather then just being considered a number or a statistic. We put the statistics of how many people clocked in and out of the library on to the library and at the end of the day covered it with photos of the people who had visited the library to make the library a community rather then just a mundane place of work.

Leave your markSo many of the library users took an interest in the work we were doing and wanted to leave their mark on the library and wanted to create in the library a community atmosphere that they felt had never been there prior to the cafe emerging. By the end of the day people were asking

” Am I allowed to put my cup up as well ?”

People who visited the cafe got a sense of the regimented routine that the warehouse workers went through on a daily basis because of the tasks we performed, we took part in all of the tasks the working class people were doing and also ran the cafe. There were five stations and every half an hour we switched stations and every hour we went out for a regimented cigarette break, because in the time of the factory, the workers would recieve a three minute break for a cigarette to keep them in their repressed positions. We did this by using the whistle, timed the break and then were whistled back in again.These elements were effective in showing how regimented a working class day was.

We were initally dubious about combining the two elements of class and community because we thought that they would clash, however as the day unfloded we realised that by breaking down the conventions of the class stereotypes the community became stronger with the vast amount of marks being left on the wall of cups and the photographs taken and the conversations that were exchanged, Wilkie says “site-specific theatre work is a means of moving away from the strict codes of the traditional theatre and encouraging creative freedom”. 
We moved away from the norms of usual performance and really embraced site specific.

I hope all who came to the cafe enjoyed their experience.

Comments welcome.

Works cited;

Brook, P. (1968) The empty space. New York: Atheneum.

Boon, R. and Plastow, J. (2004) Theatre and empowerment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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