AN INTERVIEW1 CONSULTATION2 TRAINING3 SCHEME4 ON BEHALF OF JOBCENTRE PLUS5.
Person Spec is about work. It’s about unemployment, uberisation, zero-hour contracts, discrimination, and so-called ‘unskilled labour’. It’s about the new relationships with work that have emerged for all of us. It’s about how we cope with needing to prove that our labour is valuable. It’s about what we ask of ourselves and each other to do that. It’s about all the things that our high school career advisors never predicted.
The show reverses the traditional role of the audience, enrolling them to interview a candidate for an exciting role. Over the course of an evening, the recruitment process reveals itself, and its troubling implications for the audience’s participation.
We’re entering into a crisis of unemployment and underemployment that is set to be the biggest since the 1980s. For many areas it will arrive on top of a decade of austerity, wage stagnation and erosion of skilled jobs. And with the approach of work-automation, the future of work is more than a little daunting.
Work changed in the last year for all of us, and it’s going to keep changing. This coming year we want to have the conversations we need to have about work – about what this means for us as individuals, and as a community.
1 Surreal 2 Political 3 Participatory 4 Work-in-development 6 Absolutely not
“In 2017 writer Andrew Cook was commissioned to produce a series of role plays for a large recruitment company wanting to develop its hiring strategy. The specification was, ‘to discover and create workers flexible to creating their own future’. Undergoing extreme financial hardship, Andrew completed most of the work in Manchester’s Medical Evaluations Unit, while also participating in a fifteen day medical trial for which he received £3219. Under extreme financial stress, Andrew’s mental stability at this time began to falter. However he did complete the role plays, mostly from his bed on the ward. The trial produced no symptoms or effects, and as far as we understand the drug is now on the market. However, by the time Andrew emerged from the Unit although physically healthy he had by his own account (in a Facebook post and series of tweets) “turned from the meagre balcony of his sanity” to go “freely through the hotel of another place altogether.” Today Andrew is fine. Everything in this performance is from the role plays Andrew wrote in the document he eventually and submitted one hour after his deadline. That document is here tonight, and all that remains is what will be written by us. By you. Andrew was never paid for the work he completed.”