A Seventh Man at Amplify Festival

Documentation of A Seventh Man at Amplify, Nottingham Playhouse, on Saturday 15 February 2020. Images: Julian Hughes & Ben Wigley.

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Some audience feedback from the showing at Nottingham Playhouse in response to our questions. We acted upon this feedback for the final sharing.

Berger and Mohr’s original book used a collage technique of words and images, which we’ve tried to adapt within a performative setting. Do you have any comments on this aspect of the piece?

● I felt the concept of collage was ‘more’ towards the middle/end of the piece.
● Very kinetic movement between words & images > very good
● The use of props added to the story and experience
● That worked! Looked at different aspects of migrant experience. Allowed it not to have contiguous story.
● I would have liked to have had more opportunity to look at the pictures more closely.
● Visual aspects help bring story to life & gives reality.
● The language had an immediacy. Something is always happening and is important.
● The use of collage techniques of words and images made it more so engaging for the audience
● The photos add a temporal dimension (or distance) and the words bring the story closer. The tension, juxtaposition, creates a nostalgia that is somehow still present.
● Pace is very quick-fire – gives clear indication of urgency.
● Yes, very intense, you were drawn into the production
● VERY IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE
● This piece was, in my opinion, very interesting and very different from what you would usually expect a play
to be like.
● This made it very interesting and enjoyable to watch. Kept you hooked!
● Highly emotive and at times emotionally disturbing. The close intimacy of the space heightened the confusion.
● I liked the sporadic nature, kept me on my toes. Loved how integrated we/I was into all the images.

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Did the conditions within S.H.E.D affect your experience of the piece, and if so, how?

● Generally I enjoy work which is shown in an unconventional ‘performance space’. I felt the shed fitted the context of the work.
● Exacerbated strength of the performance.
● Added more depth to the performance and felt more life like
● In a positive way – it intensified the experience.
● Yes it certainly made it more immersive.
● Made it very near
● The cramped space added to the atmosphere.
● Yes, but positively. The closeness enabled me to ‘feel’ the atmosphere.
● I think it helped create the feeling of the small spaces described + the invasion of privacy.
● The closed environment suited the cramped feel of the story. If the interior was metalic, it would be perfect.
● It affected me in terms of feeling as if I was also a worker experiencing what it had once been like during the ‘70s.
● Immersion and participation in the experience but at the same time an awareness that our privilege as non-migrants keeps us as spectators of this drama.
● Clearly indicates the claustrophobic conditions
● Made it feel ‘up close’ & personal.
● Yes, it made you feel drawn into the lives of a migrant, the conditions they have to face, whether its on the bus, in the factory, down the mines
● I think that because being in such a confined space kept me from switching off. I think the interesting set managed to keep me very engaged.
● Very authentic, it made you feel you were experiencing it.
● Yes definitely intensified the feeling (though I was on the side that could view out into the ‘open’ window/world – prob more intense on the other side!
● Yes. It made me imagine that I was there.
● Yes, the touching of bodies made me feel like I had to be careful moving & very self aware physically. I loved the slight rumbling feel in the pipes.
● Yes, it was dutifully cramped which gave a small hint to the conditions I guess. The new timber smell was noticiable, wonder if that could be changed.
● Definitely. I enjoyed the initiative to move to grasp the fullness of what was going on eg leaning forward to see the end pictures, or squeezing into a smaller position to let the performer perform.

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Are the parallels between the conditions migrants faced in the 1970s and those faced by migrants today clearly expressed?

● In some way. I was have thought that condition today is significantly worse/more frightening/less empowered.
● Yes other than the dangerous boat crossings in the Med
● Also reminded me of list navy of C18 & C19 century. Same experience of danger and displacement. What changes?
● I wasn’t really aware of the time the piece was set.
● It felt very bound to the 1970s. If there were examples of migrants today, that would breach the gap.
● They were clearly expressed in terms of the language barrier was considered more difficult during the ‘70s.
● The choice of text indeed and particularly the last sentence. I like the fact that the performance starts even before entering the SHED, with the photographs and suitcases.
● I wasn’t aware they were actively comparing. But v. aware of conditions in 1970s.
● Yes, very powerfully. Migrants wanting a better life but ultimately ending up exploited. Still suffering poverty. Families separated.
● YES HOWEVER A FEW UP TO DATE EXAMPLES/STATISTICS MIGHT BE USEFUL
● I think the use of body language made everything much clearer.
● Yes absolutely
● I didn’t detect any deliberate links to today but I did have an awareness within me of the situation today when watching.
● Absolutely. Last line = poignancy & universality. Apart from dates, it doesn’t ever feel like its set in the past.
● I suspect that the information shown on contemporary T.V is relatively ‘sanitised’ – so I can’t really compare to now. Historical footage of 20 Century atrocities do make parallels.
● I love the line at the end “stories, unlike their authors, get younger over time” (or something like that)

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Do you have any thoughts about the non-linear approach we used to structure the work?

● I didn’t recognise that the work was non-linear. As we weren’t following a specific family’s experience, the generalisation made each ‘section’ digestable in it’s own right. Though I don’t feel I could identify the beginning or end of each section as it felt well woven together.
● Very good performance > enjoyed the non-linearity but maybe explain the cars/brio at the end a bit more!
● Very powerful
● No emotional engagement to characters. No characters really. Moving & enjoyable nevertheless.
● It worked well to build the scene.
● I think it worked, it’s a collection of memories.
● Mood and danger is perfectly captured. Something was going to happen and we didn’t know where from.
● It still felt quite linear: away (departure) – during (work) – and back (return).
● The pace was monitored so well any gaps or time-changes were not obvious.
● Intense and unexpected.
● Excellent loved it, very different.
● QUITE UNIQUE – NEVER EXPERIENCED ANYTHING LIKE IT BEFORE
● Just Great! Loved the talking in own language!
● Generally enjoyed it but perhaps work on a slightly stronger ending – more definite?
● It was different and creative.
● It actually didn’t feel non-linear; I hadn’t considered it until filling this form out. The fact you went backwards/forwards just felt like it was a natural spilling out of moments/memories of the whole experience.
● I like it. Happy to be taken on a different journey.