World Premiere Of Feel Me

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What makes us feel for another person? Following 4 years of extensive research and development, UK’s leading devising verbatim theatre company presents the World Premiere of Feel Me, an interrogation of empathy which actively measures audiences’ engagement with the theme during the show.

Using a mixture of live performance, film, projection, dance and interactive elements, Feel Me explores the different lenses through which we are told, and connect to stories we hear and read about. In Feel Me, worlds unfold from backpacks, and tents are constructed and dismantled again, each scene and location temporary, like a transient teenager in search of safety, acceptance and a new place to call home.

Talking about the inspiration for the show, the Company’s Co-Founder and Co-Director Jemma McDonnell said: “The idea for Feel Me started in 2015 when I saw a picture of a three year old boy, Alan Kurdi, washed up on a beach. It was a picture I couldn’t get out of my mind, there was something in that horrifying viral image that kept making me return to the concept of empathy and what it means to feel for another. Jump forward 5 years and sat in lockdown with my own small children to take care of I decided to revisit this idea.”

Feel Me, production image
Feel Me- Photo Credit: Will Green

Feel Me seeks real world impact and action and achieves it with help from modern technology: as active participants within the show, audiences are gently and anonymously asked to share how they feel about the story they are witnessing at different moments using their phones, and to consider who they connect with, who they feel empathy for and why.

The data gathered will be measured using innovative software accessed by the audience during the show in a series of collaborative ‘check-in’ moments, with results creatively shared live as part of the performance. Working in collaboration with academics from Essex University, the Company is using mobile phones to measure the impact Feel Me has had on their audiences and their empathy levels immediately as well as post-show.

Explaining the extensive R&D process for Feel Me, Jemma added: “In 2021, we devised a multi-artform digital project for 14-25 year olds called The School of Hope during which we worked with 9 partner organisations in 5 countries over 3 continents to really begin to interrogate who we care for and who we don’t, and why that might be.

“Working with numerous cohorts of young artists and creatives on this subject matter in digital and hybrid formats over the lengthy R&D period that followed, our initial findings from The School of Hope made us feel compelled and excited to explore within the show, not only the stories we hear, but the way we often receive these stories via tech, most commonly our phones. We decided there was a real opportunity to create an interactive element to the show that allowed audiences to share how they felt about the story that was unfolding in front of them. This interactive element has proved to be a massive challenge, but one, as a new NPO and company who is wholly committed to giving platforms, hearing voices and starting conversations, we were determined to pursue.

“I am really proud of what we have made as empathy is about connection and Feel Me allows hundreds of audience members to have a voice, to see and hear how their community around them is also feeling and most importantly to connect.”

Known for their exceptional work with and for young people, The Paper Birds put together a fantastic creative team of emerging artists under 30 years old to work on Feel Me, including, among others, Shanice Sewell (Assistant Director), Imogen Melhuish (Designer), Fraser Owen (Sound & Music Design) and the cast of Lil McGibbon, Daz Scott and Kiren Virdee.

The Company has also worked with five Youth Creative Councils – steering groups made up of young people aged 13-25 years old, some of whom with a lived experience of forced displacement. They have been invited to share their thoughts and opinions on the show as it went through the devising process and rehearsals.

2024 TOUR DATES:

7-8 February | Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield | tickets here

20-21 February | Theatre Royal, The Egg Theatre, Bath | tickets here

22 February | The ShowRoom | Chichester | tickets here

23 February | Bedales Theatre, Petersfield | tickets here

27-28 February | Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough | tickets here

19-20 March | Mercury Theatre, Colchester | tickets here

25-26 March | Northcott Theatre, Exeter | tickets here

27-28 March | Greenwich Theatre, London | tickets will be on sale soon here

26 April | Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead | tickets here

30 April – 1 May | Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol | tickets here

uitable for ages 13 years+. Includes integrated captions.

Contains mild strobing in the projections, loud noises and atmospheric haze.

The show uses cameras to stream what is happening in the auditorium on screens onstage, but this is not recorded or used outside of the day’s live performance.

Approx. 80 minutes (no interval)

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