Presentation of award-winning solo spoken word show THE EMPATHY EXPERIMENT and Q&A discussion
ABOUT THE SHOW: THE EMPATHY EXPERIMENT asks if empathy is in decline and whether smartphones are to blame. Embarking on her own Day Of No Mobile Phones, Rose invites the audience to join her in the final hour of her experiment – including handing over their own phones. Rose writes an open letter to Facebook about how their relationship has turned sour. She shares a fairy tale featuring a magic mirror that tries to evoke empathy from the current American president. She swaps shoes with a member of the audience at one point, as a very literal act of empathy. Rose hits a crisis of confidence in realising that mobile technology has become essential for some people (e.g. disability access). She tries to reconcile feelings of guilt with still wanting to address tech addiction.
After winning Best Spoken Word Show at the Greater Manchester Fringe Awards, THE EMPATHY EXPERIMENT played to full houses in Edinburgh and received critical acclaim from audiences and reviewers:
★★★★ ‘Her poetic storytelling is the highlight of the show’ – The Feminist Fringe
★★★★ ½ ‘Relevant and enthralling’ – The Reviews Hub
★★★★ ‘She models true empathy’ – Three Weeks
ROSE SAID: ‘I saw my own increasing addiction to my smartphone and saw people in all corners of public and private spaces with eyes constantly fixed on screens. I wondered what impact this was having on how we show compassion and empathy. What began as a naïve hope that a phone-free day might increase empathy on a global scale, became a journey into the complexities of mobile communication and recognising that there are many positive reasons that people have come to rely on this technology.’
SESSION OBJECTIVES: This proposal hopes to align with the conference’s aims of exploring alternative forms of engagement. The show is a strong example of spoken word theatre, which is an increasingly popular form of poetry in performance. The show will provoke critical thinking around how performance poetry can be used to delve into topical issues. The follow up Q&A discussion will give attendees a chance to share feedback and will enable Rose to shed light on her creative process – in particular her compassionate use of audience participation as a way of deepening engagement with the material.
Please note that Rose has recently written a paper called ‘I thought I was just coming to watch: audience participation in live spoken word’ which will be part of a collection of essays on spoken word in the UK being published by Routledge in 2020 (Editors: Lucy English and Jack McGowan). Rose’s critical reflection on her practice will underpin her discussion in the Q&A.
Please also note that although the show has been performed in theatres, it requires no technical support. THE EMPATHY EXPERIMENT would work in a classroom, lecture hall, café, or whatever space is available.
For further information about Rose and her work please visit www.rosecondo.net.