is a workshop which aims to create the best possible conditions for its participants to dare enact another possible version of themselves; to take a leap of both faith and imagination, by which one decisively steps out of one's own ‘comfort zone’ to engage with the world as if such limits had been removed. 

We may sometimes be confronted with an intuition that the limits of what we personally feel is acceptable to do are not always well founded. The THING frames the impulse that comes from that mistrust of ones own established norms; from having 'had enough' of not taking up the challenge of trespassing those limits.

We are living in times when mistrust of each other seems to be growing daily, while human inequality and environmental damage have reached proportions both obscene and critical. Why don’t we do something? There is a sense of being stuck, blocked.

We like to think that art can unblock, and of this workshop especially as a kind of de-blocking agent, principally by working towards a practice, accessible to anyone and drawing from a variety of disciplines, of creating moments of exception; something like a conscious insertion of a parenthesis into daily life 

(  .    .    .  )

within which one’s normal behaviour is to be suspended, and deviation finds legitimacy.

“The principle of direct action is the defiant insistence on acting as if one is already free.”  

                                                                                David Graeber 

More than just encouraging a ‘bucket list’ (all the things you want to do before dying) the workshop presents ‘a claim on your capacities’. By the end, participants are at a point of having identified and imaginatively amplified that potentiality, leaving them as it were on the edge: the moment the workshop ends is where it’s up to them if they jump or not. We are both interested in art which projects (imaginatively) and sets up instances of real-world consequence.

A challenge becomes clear: how to avoid the sense that any consequence is for participants’ benefit only. The THING focuses on those aspects to our lives (or aspects missing from our lives) which in some way relate to other people, so that any action which constitutes taking a risk - or going beyond the limits of one’s usual behaviour - will have a reciprocal consequence with at least one other person. While it’s certainly about contemplating and taking personal risk, the workshop could just as much be thought of as an exercise in creating accomplices. ‘To surpass oneself’, thought of in this way, suggests a useful double meaning...

can also be thought of as a performance where the only people present are a group of 8-12 participants who open a suitcase and follow a mix of pre-recorded and scripted triggers. There are no leaders or authors present.

Concept / creation - Ant Hampton & Christophe Meierhans 

Video production  - Luca Mattei

Coding / electronics - Toby Duckworth

Creative Producer - Katja Timmerberg

Coproduced by -

Auawirleben Theaterfestival Bern

Kaaitheater Brussels

West Kowloon Cultural Development Hong Kong

Theatre & Dance Department at Iceland Academy of the Arts Reykjavik

Zeitraumexit Mannheim

Techne - eine Produktionsplattform von

Theater Rampe und Künstlerhaus Stuttgart

Over het IJ Festival Amsterdam

With development support from Das Theater Amsterdam 

thanks to Agnieszka Kurant, James Plummer

“The Thing / Automatic Workshop was a completely new experience for me in terms of how to inspire people and generate ideas. All the participants had to take responsibility for making it work since there is no one present leading it, only material and video to guide you on. It was a truly mind opening experience. It made me look at my surroundings in a different light and sparked many ideas about how one can make a change in one´s community. Simple actions can get the ball rolling. Breaking the unwritten laws in society makes you aware of all the invisible structures and questioning the consensus is a healthy practice. A fun, important and inspiring workshop!”

- Álfrún Helga Örnólfsdótti, Rejkyavic

“the Automatic Workshop is a factory of hope” 

- words by Alexander Roberts here

comprises 4 episodes, each about 4 hours long. The episodes are usually spread out over different days.