Dear Provisional Citizen, are you British Enough?
You have been selected for testing within the British Enough Testing Zones, an immersive theatrical site-specific experience set in a future where British Citizenship is the ultimate prize. Enter a world where Britishness is manufactured and cultural identity must be won through ingenuity, endurance and psychological testing. ‘British Enough?’ is a collaboration between artist Kristina Cranfeld and writer/director John Harrigan, founder of FoolishPeople, exploring the physical and imagined spaces conjured by Brexit in the borderlands of Britain’s future outside of the EU.
What is the future of citizenship in Britain and what new rules will be proposed for migrants to become citizens? British Enough? was an immersive, site-specific performance around the concept of identity and belonging that was presented at the Birmingham Rep and commissioned as part of the BE FESTIVAL and supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation.
For those born in the UK, British identity is a loose and changeable concept. For those seeking citizenship from abroad, however, it is the opposite: being subject to the government's "Life in the UK" test, there are fixed, itemised cornerstones - which are deemed critical by immigration officials for fitting into British society.
British Enough? critiques this regime through a future manifestation of the test. A collaboration between the artist and filmmaker Kristina Cranfeld with the writer and director John Harrigan (of FoolishPeople theatre company) around Kristina's short film, Manufactured Britishness. For this year's festival, this video installation has been developed into a site-specific, immersive piece of theatre. The audience is invited to move through different assessment zones, participating in various, often bizarre, demonstrations of British values
Together, the two strands of this project serve to question the notion of "becoming" British. By introducing the audience to a surreal process behind that idea, it exposes the test's underlying values, and the political agendas guiding those values - with immigrants seen as exploitable material to support nationalistic identities and capitalist norms.
Kristina's work, presented through films, is concerned with transition and human identity. Kristina Cranfeld is a London based artist and filmmaker. She holds a BA Hons in Design from Goldsmiths, University of London and an MA in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art. Largely concerned with transition and human identity, Kristina's work is presented through films, installations and photographs. She continuously experiments with these mediums, finding unconventional techniques to tell and capture compelling visions.
The FoolishPeople company, founded by John Harrigan in 1989, is an early innovator for immersive and ritual theatre. Over a number of years, Foolish People has developed a unique practice, Theatre of Manifestation. This is a form of ritual theatre that combines mythology, shamanism, drama therapy, strategic forecasting and open-source collaboration. They create stories by merging film, performance, sound, art, light and the location to create a unique, dreamlike world that living characters inhabit.
BE FESTIVAL turns the notion of conventional theatre upside down. It crosses borders, creative disciplines and blurs the boundary between audience and artist.
The festival grew out of a spirit of exchange prevalent in Birmingham’s arts scene in 2010. Inspired by positive experiences touring to European festivals, Isla Aguilar, Miguel Oyarzun and Mike Tweddle were met with great enthusiasm to the idea of a new arts festival in Birmingham and soon fleshed out a plan on the back of a napkin at a Birmingham curry house. And so BE FESTIVAL was born.
BE FESTIVAL (shortened from Birmingham European Festival) takes place annually around July. Each year a daring and innovative programme of boundary pushing theatre, dance, comedy, circus, music, visual and performing arts takes place turning theatre’s rarely seen backstages into a den of creativity, discovery and exchange where diverse cultures are celebrated.
The BE ethos is firmly grounded in a sense of community and democracy. The festival wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the generosity of our hosts who open their doors to visiting artists and the many volunteers who become the backbone of BE leading up to and during the festival.
The youth performance programme, BE NEXT engages and empowers young Birmingham based artists performing a new piece of work on the last night of each festival. Many of young people speak English as a second language reflecting the diversity of the city and the international community of the festival. Since 2013 the project has expanded beyond the week of the festival and we have worked with different partners to provide performance opportunities and host the workshops throughout the year. BE FESTIVAL has a touring wing taking “The Best of BE” around the UK and Spain and continues to grow its wings.