PUSH LAB – The Acquisitions Panel

Fast Familiar present

The Acquisitions Panel

A face-to face playable theatre piece about the legacies of European colonialism and who gets to choose the stories we tell.

Reading, UK. The local museum is contacted by a woman who has found a musical instrument made out of a biscuit tin in a box of things that belonged to her great-grandfather. The biscuit tin is from the famous Huntley & Palmers factory in Reading – so perhaps the museum might want it?

Her great-grandfather came into possession of it in 1905, in Congo. During an expedition during the reign of King Leopold II of Belgium.

The case is referred to a citizen acquisition panel, convened to help the museum make decisions.

As part of this panel, you will hear from people with opinions on the object, you’ll discuss with your fellow panel members – and ultimately decide what should happen.

Placing you at the heart of the experience, The Acquisitions Panel is an interactive performance by critically-acclaimed immersive experience makers Fast Familiar, exploring how we choose the stories we tell about the past.

The Acquisitions Panel is supported by South Street, and developed with funding by Arts Council England.

What do audiences do?

Twelve audience members are seated around a table, each with a tablet device. They review documents and audio and video evidence, undertake structured discussions and make decisions. There will then be a structured debrief allowing them to step back and see their conversations within a broader societal context.

Performances will take place at 11am, 2pm and 5pm.

About Fast Familiar

Fast Familiar are an interdisciplinary collaboration comprising expertise in theatre, facilitation and creative computing. We make artworks which are participatory, playful and political. For us, art is a space to explore questions which are too complex for daily life – and a space where we can rehearse better outcomes for a world where no decision of significance is taken by an isolated individual.

We’ve been exploring digital technology in live performance since before it was ‘COVID-cool’ – we’re fascinated by how digital tech can enable new forms of human connection in a rapidly changing world. In January 2021, we were praised by the Guardian for pioneering “a hybrid form that is its own thing entirely… Fast Familiar are making participatory stories that feel distinctly theatrical.”

We tend to make artworks for small audiences, where participants are invited to collaborate and find their collective way through ethical or social dilemmas. We ask our audiences to bring their intelligence and their humanity to our projects – we are aware that we ask people to take a trip out of their comfort zone with us, and we take our responsibility for caring for our audiences seriously. We think art can be experimental without being elitist. We think art probably can’t change the world but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying.

Fast Familiar’s lead artists are Dan Barnard, Rachel Briscoe and Joe McAlister. We’re not as earnest in real life as this has made us sound.

Update 9 December 2021

Due to the announcement regarding covid regulations on 8 December, currently all the events in PUSH LAB have a limited capacity to allow for social distancing to take place. If the guidelines change the capacity will be increased. 



Tickets are available as ‘Pay What You Can’ – the suggested price for this event is £5 – but there are a range of ticket prices so you can choose what you can afford from the options, including £0 as we want as many people as possible to access our events.

Running time: 2 hours
Age guidance: 14 +

Content warning: this production contains descriptions of European colonial violence.