From the Ground Up is an interesting concept. Designed by the Almeida Theatre Young Company who aim to explore some of the most pressing questions in today’s society through thought-provoking and inspiring theatre. The show starts with a stamp on each hand – “No” on the left, “Yes” on the right.
Audience members, or participants, in the production are invited to stand on a white spot on the floor while the instructions are given. A lanyard and associated number are collected from one of the facilitators of the show before a series of statements are fired at the participants who are invited to indicate their response by presenting their hand-stamps towards the surveyors and raising a digit on the corresponding hand. Answers are recorded and later used to present information about each candidate in the form of “preferences”, each leader trying to collect as many “preferences” as they can before the final stage of proceedings.
Intermittently participants are invited to step into the middle of the floor and move right or left in response to the statements and finally, when almost all have a coloured balloon to represent their “preference” a safety pin is provided so that the balloons can be popped if the statements are disagreed with.
The facilitators all take on a persona with differing views and opinions, many of which are controversial and philosophical encouraging people to truly think about what they believe and why that may be so. The leader of events runs a tight ship with a strict schoolmarm type of discipline. At times the acting and scripting of this seems overdone and out of touch with the subtlety of the concept, which is a unique one.
Audience members leave with an interesting take on who they are and what they believe and won’t forget the show in a hurry, not least because the stamps take some scrubbing off!