The wind howled around the clock face of Bangor's central meeting point, Huddled around its base were the Super Assembly audience, justifiably nervous as the event was advertised as happening on the streets of Bangor. This was the point; the premiss of the Assembly was that there is nowhere for the youth of Bangor to go, nothing for them to do and yet the town is home to a university and it hosts a thriving student community. Could Bangor be the poster town for the divided nation, a nation of the haves and the have nots.
The Assembly format is "Performance debate" whereby the performance does not answer questions, it raises them:
The starting point for the Assembly were five simple questions:
As the audience looked quizzically at each other three figures dressed as scientists climbed the hill to escort us to the Town Hall - we were to be part of an experiment. In the Hall appropriately the former home of The Variety Department of the British Broadcasting
Corporation during the second World we were confronted by tables of retort stands, chemical flasks of assorted fluids and foot long glass pippets.
In front of this display stood a pair of scientists experimenting on subject number 1, who was given a range of coloured chemicals that effected his behaviour causing him to dance, sing, strutt around bombastically. It was obvious that they could control him.
So the question was posed "how can we control a town?"
We were split into two groups and taken back out onto the streets - one group went to the library and the other to a shopping arcade.
As part of the shopping arcade group I missed the Library activities but in the arcade we were first confronted with a tableau of teenagers playing on an xbox - clearly
the main activity for alot of them. This was clearly going to involve audience participation and various people were handed the controllers to join in. This continued for a bit too long, which was perfectly judged
because it illustrated the boredom that permeates lives of Bangor youth. Just as our heads dipped the performers/youths started to get restive "lets do something' " this is boring" "lets get out of here", this was counterpointed by the game
players "no you are boring" 'Doing stuff is so dull" "don't go". The sense of indolence's addiction, the power of entropy was tangible.
We were hustled up stairs by the shouting screaming cheering participants and were usherd into anther room filled with props and encased in white walls. Our temporary befuddlement was swept aside as the participants drew us into the activities, we
wrote and drew on the walls, we dressed up in the costumes, we played with cans on strings, all of which was accompanied by the youths making a cacophony and arguing with each other. There was a real sense of liberation in the room , a release from
our self imposed limits. But it all came to an end as two police officers arrived and called a halt to the whole thing - "you don't have permission to write on the walls" "you cant do that" "you cant so that" " you can't do that" " you must all leave NOW" suddenly we were
all naughty youths being chased out by the police.
Back on the streets we were ushered back to the Variety Department's former home which had been transformed. Here we rejoined our Librarian colleagues who had spent a quieter time wrapped up in red tape.
Around tables and encouraged by a facilitator each table talked over their experiences, how it made them feel and how Bangor could be improved. We reported back to the room and then tasked with building the molecule that the scientists could create and slip into the water supply.
The conversations were vigorous and informed and many ideas came out. The questions were answered in different ways and new questions were answered and posed.
This was an excellent evening that made the audience work and gave a very dynamic platform to a vocal and thoughtful group.
The only question now is "was anyone listening?"
Add a Comment