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In or out an extraordinary queuing experience

The entire museum is a special place, but some parts are more precious than others. How far will you go to get in? What if the rules are twisted? Get in line and immerse yourself in the universal experience of in- and exclusion. 

Various forms of theatre can be used to engage and inform audiences about political and social issues. For example, theatre is used in the COMPAS project “Exploring Migration: Research and Drama in Schools” to inspire school age students to consider issues facing undocumented migrants. This takes a fairly serious and structured approach, devising a performance through workshops and discussion, producing a final piece of “traditional” theatre. But how do you make a point to an audience that doesn’t know that it is watching a performance? Or, indeed, one that is not necessarily interested or engaged in a particular issue?

A group aimed to do just that with two performances on behalf of the International Migration Institute at the Social Animals LiveFriday at the Ashmolean Museum on 15 May. 

On entering the queuing area the audience was guided by four guards and told to fill in a form, asking a variety of odd and incomprehensible questions (such as confusing age groupings, drawing a picture of your first house, if you have ever lied, if your name is James or Jane or other, and a blank question 4). People did this with little questioning and with good humour, but with some confusion. With growing intensity and arbitrariness the audience were questioned (individually and in groups), challenged, engaged with, moved around in the queue based on random selection criteria (the colour of the pencil they were using, the answers given to a particular question), or asked seriously to adhere to incomprehensible rules and regulations, such as “folliding into the brenacles”.


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International Migration Institute

Department of International Development

Read our migration case studies here and here

Event supporters

We are grateful to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for their support through the University of Oxford’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.

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