The Enlightenment Café brings together education, theatre and spectacle to create dynamic, participatory and entertaining events. Since 2012 over a quarter of a million people have attended our theatrical productions, festival performances and one off events. Over this time we have explored what it means to be human through a zombie apocalypse, transformed Victorian medical records into an interactive ward round and imagined our changing environment in the year 2050.
Through The Enlightenment Café we forge collaborative relationships with cultural and educational institutions to create work that has been described as ‘spellbinding’ (Manchester Evening News), ‘powerful’ (The Scotsman), ‘atmospheric’ (The Herald), ‘fascinating’ (BBC) and ‘thrillingly immediate’ (FT).
Whether we are creating work for an adult or family audience, our aim is to ignite conversation and set imaginations alight. Below are some examples of our work.
‘New Atlantis acts to raise awareness about sustainability and climate change; it is not often I leave the “theatre” feeling like I have truly learnt something, much less feeling like I want to actually do something about it.’ – Official Theatre
The year is 2050. Miami has been abandoned due to rising sea levels, water austerity is crushing a drought-ridden London and the CEOs of two major energy companies have been imprisoned for historic climate crimes. Presiding over these developments are the agents of New Atlantis.
As ailing leader Bryony Weller steps down, a power vacuum is created within the organisation and the audience, as the agents of New Atlantis, must elect a new leader. But when the radical youth movement Generation Alpha infiltrate the building things take a turn for the unexpected – the audience must decide whether New Atlantis can do what is needed within the current systems of governance or if a more radical solution is needed for the sake of the environment.
New Atlantis explored pressing and complex issues surrounding climate change and our relationship with water resources. Combined with schools outreach and a series of short films, New Atlantis highlighted the important work of scientists, engineers and humanitarians whilst providing the audience with a platform to debate one of the most important issues of the 21st Century.
Collaborators: Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, UCL, The Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling and Pennine Water Group.
‘Deadinburgh achieves something special in so effectively patrolling the boundary between straightforward horror-movie excitement and the powerful ethical and strategic questions raised.’ – The Scotsman
An unknown pathogen ravages Scotland’s capital, turning the unlucky souls into bloodthirsty ambling beasts. You are one of the last uninfected citizens in a city under martial law, cut off from the rest of the UK. Now, with help from real scientists, you have only hours to decide how to save Edinburgh, and perhaps the world.
Deadinburgh introduced the audience to the worlds of epidemiology and biomedical science through a night of immersive theatre. In a theatrical world, with actors playing the infected hordes and besieged soldiers, the audience met genuine scientists using real science to solve a fictitious disease. In the end the audience had to decide whether to destroy the city, cull the infected, or search for a cure; the fate of the city was in their hands. Through the outbreak of a zombie epidemic Deadinburgh asked ‘what does it really mean to be human’ whilst offering parallels with real life science and procedures for managing disease outbreaks.
Collaborators: Edinburgh University, Heriot Watt, Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, The Roslin Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.