Last night I thought I was going to see a play – Incoming/Exodus. But as I was ushered in with the rest of the ‘audience’ I became aware that we were taking up the roles of immigration officers whose task was to decide who to invite (and who to deny) into our Republic of Southwark.
Welcome to immersive theatre.
In front of us were the CVs of 4 applicants and we had to choose only 2. Listed were their qualifications, skills and health needs. Also on the table were various budgets – health, education, social services, local economy; but the most ominous was the the ring fenced one for security which was as big as all the others put together. It began to dawn on some of us around the table that perhaps we weren’t in such an enlightened society as we were told.
The main attribute of immersive theatre is that there is no script. It is up to us, the participants, to make it up as we go along. And of course it will be different every time it is enacted – and there were 3 performances that night.
The clever thing about Incoming/Exodus is that it set up a points-based system that the South East Alliance had stipulated. And these rules disadvantaged the poor, the uneducated and the unhealthy. Would we go along with the rules or would some of us initiate a rebellion? You will no doubt be glad we rebelled, but it was interesting to me how many of our number were happy to go along with following orders.
COLAB, the creators of Incoming/Exodus want this to be an “immersive experience which challenges attitudes towards immigration, with your voice centre stage”. Hopefully all the participants had the opportunity to re-assess their thoughts about authority and migration. The suave and rather chilling chair, Matthew Flacks helped remind us of 1984.
Performed by Matthew Flacks; directed by Natalie Scott and Joseph Thorpe