Creative Plus or Creative Minus? The Process
On 1st February 2020, I went to the Bunker Theatre in Southwark to see The Process. Being a stone’s throw from Borough Market, it is an interesting part of London, with its many narrow side roads and varied architecture, including The Shard. The Bunker itself is a small theatre space with a tiny bar and next door to the former Menier Chocolate Factory.
I wanted to go to see this ninety minute production partly because a friend is one of the performers (George Eggay), but also because of the concept. The play uses British Sign Language (BSL), which is integral to the plot of the play.
The action centres around an App created by a deaf woman who is CEO of a company called The Crop. The App measures how useful English citizens are - namely whether they are 'Creative Plus or Creative Minus.' The moment a citizen becomes the latter, s/he is deemed 'null.' The consequences are not pretty. It is ironic that in error, the protagonist Jo falls foul of the government as she breaks one of the rules - not registering someone who is visiting her son at her home. Unfortunately for her, her disabled son pays the price as he is handcuffed and dies while awaiting trial.
The play highlights the complexity of the right to interpreters, legal representatives and the appeals process for those who are hard of hearing. More importantly, it shows how bureaucracy and authoritarian policies combined can wreak chaos and misunderstanding if you are a vulnerable member of society.
The play hints at the politics within the deaf community - those who value hearing aids/cochlear implants against those who do not.
There are some moments where not to be familiar with BSL puts you at a disadvantage - this all adds to the theatrical impact. This, as the narrator at the beginning of the play stresses, 'is meant to be.'
The end of the play is sobering: all languages apart from English (including BSL and Welsh) are banned with immediate effect.
This play gives us food for thought - especially in the post-Brexit phase the UK has just entered.