an auto- matic


shop in everyday


by Ant Hampton and

Christophe Meierhans

The THING, an automated and hybrid form between performance, workshop and journey.

Over 4 episodes, each about 4 hours long, The THING takes its participants on an exploration of the overlap between things which matter to the world, and a thing each of us could set into motion at any moment.

Doing The THING is about creating the best possible conditions to take a leap of both faith and imagination, daring to enact another possible version of oneself.

To decisively step out of one’s comfort zone by, as David Graeber coins it, "insisting on acting as if one is already free.”

In The THING, no charismatic leader stands in your way. The only ones present are you: a group of 8–12 people who open a suitcase and follow a wild mix of different triggers as a guide.

Everyone knows there are inherent rules and limitations to what is possible or acceptable, either on a personal or social level. But what happens when you’re confronted by the sense that some of those rules need to be bent, or broken?  

The THING frames the impulse that comes from that mistrust of ones established norms; from having 'had enough' of not taking up the challenge of trespassing those limits.

We are living in times when the problems we face seem to multiply daily. Human inequality and environmental damage, for example, 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 at the very least 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 THING focuses on those aspects to 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 for at least one other person. While it’s certainly about contemplating and taking personal risk, the workshop could equally be thought of as an exercise in creating accomplices.

More than just encouraging a ‘bucket list’ (the things you want to do before dying) the workshop makes ‘a claim on your capacities’. Participants work to identify and amplify that potentiality, leaving them by the end of Episode 4 ‘on the edge’, ready to jump.

“the Automatic Workshop is a factory of hope”

- words by Alexander Roberts here

“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

Concept / creation - Ant Hampton & Christophe Meierhans

Video production  - Luca Mattei

Coding / electronics - Toby Duckworth

Creative Producer - Katja Timmerberg

With development support from Das Theater, Amsterdam 

Studio support from Kunstenwerkplaats Pianofabriek, Brussels

thanks to Agnieszka Kurant, James Plummer

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

Nouveau Théâtre de Montreuil

FARº Festival, Nyon