This is not a riot: 101 uses for a halfbrick

Theatre

In 2011 and 2012 my main theatre project was This is not a riot. It was about riots, of course — half a performance lecture and half a training workshop, finding ways to train audiences to understand and cope with riot situations. It was first conceived in April 2011 (a scratch at Artists’ Voice, Leicester), and was booked for The Yard, Hackney in October that year. In one of those strange and terrible serendipities that happens when you make theatre about contemporary subjects, two weeks after that booking was confirmed, Hackney was burning. The finished show toured Scotland in March 2012, and went off to the CrisisArt Festival in Italy in Jun 2012.

Over the course of two years the show changed a great deal, but one element stayed in every performance: at the end of the show, to release some collective tension with laughter and imagination, I gave the audience 5 minutes to come up with as many possible uses for a halfbrick as possible. I put “Throw it through a window” on the screen, and claimed I’d got a bad case of functional-fixedness that I needed their help to solve. I was hoping that over the course of the shows the audiences would collectively come up with 101 different uses.

Then other opportunities and other shows happened, and I forgot to ever amalgamate all those lists of uses. I was trying to put my archive of show documentation in order this afternoon, and realised that that wee job needed doing. To my delight, once I’d taken out all the definite duplicates across audiences, the total uses came to precisely 101! (I only wangled it a tiny bit.) So I present to you 101 Uses for a Halfbrick, authored collectively by audiences in Leicester, Hackney, Glasgow, Dundee, St Andrews, Edinburgh and Arrezzo. Enjoy! And feel free to add your own.

A video and blogs about the show can be found here, and a photo slideshow’s below.

101 Uses for a Half-Brick

1. Throw it through a window
2. Cupholder
3. Ashtray
4. Desk tidy
5. Draw a circle
6. Doorstop
7. Rustic paperweight
8. Coaster
9. Bookend
10. 1/1000th of a house for an intelligent pig
11. Hammer
12. Chair
13. Pestle
14. Let it be
15. Make oil paint
16. Theatre prop
17. Iron clothes
18. Practice your balance
19. Weight training
20. Back-scratcher
21. Level an unbalanced table
22. Nutcracker
23. Bedwarmer
24. Reminder
25. Knuckleduster
26. Mask
27. Line the edge of a garden
28. Begin a stone massage
29. Threaten siblings
30. Toy for hamsters
31. Crap present
32. Pet
33. Hide your keys
34. Step up to things
35. Plumb line
36. Painful hair tie
37. Kill bugs
38. Neck pillow
39. Alexander technique training
40. Water-saving device for cisterns
41. Juggle with it
42. Found art
43. Hammer tent pegs
44. Build a barricade
45. Fix a wall
46. Crap ruler
47. Crush grapes, make gritty wine
48. A seat for teddy bears
49. Picture frame
50. Crush it to make sand
51. Talisman
52. Metaphor
53. Hat
54. Grow moss
55. Make a tiny kiln
56. Play music on it
57. Finishing touch for a rockery
58. House a spider
59. Sex toy
60. Jewellery
61. File your teeth
62. Sharpen knives
63. Send it into space to confuse aliens
64. Bury it as a perplexing time capsule
65. Tripping tool for slapstick comedy
66. Knock yourself out
67. Throw it at a cop
68. Coaster
69. Get another one and make a shelf
70. Scratch a slogan
71. Scratchpost for cats
72. Tent peg
73. Logo for a failing building society
74. Decoration for a fish tank
75. Paint it
76. Declare it as an independent socialist republic
77. Stand it as an election candidate
78. Practise karate
79. Pretend to practise karate to increase your social standing
80. Contribution to rock-breaking prison punishments
81. Compulsory suppository for Lords
82. Grappling hook
83. Cardio step exercise
84. Shelter from the rain
85. Toilet paper for elephants
86. Make two quarter bricks
87. Ballast
88. Hold down accelerator in a thrilling action movie
89. Peep hole
90. Glory hole
91. Amateur dentistry
92. Start a brick collection
93. Shoe rack
94. Play catch
95. Barter with it
96. Secretly increase the cost of nasty people’s flight baggage
97. Eat it for a dare
98. Start a riot
99. Sell it as a fake drug
100. Snort it
101.  Break into a greenhouse

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