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Society of Friends

As at a Quaker meeting, we wait attentively in silence, for someone to feel moved to speak. In these times of crisis we make a collective ministry with you, Tate Britain's secular Society of Friends. Uninvited Guests convene a one-off Meeting of Sufferings, to voice stories from the news, to do the business of listening to attendees' current concerns. Seated in concentric circles in the gallery, we are joined by faces from the past looking down from portraits.

The news is cast locally, with the public as collective newsreaders, transmitted to radios between Room 5 and the outside world. Collaborate on this work-in-progress performance, a social sculpture made specifically with you, for Tate and for this day.

There will be three 45 minute meetings:
Feel free to join us and take a seat at any time.

Commissioned by Tate Britain's BP Saturday, Going Public, 20th March 2pm - 7pm.

In collaboration with sound designer Lewis Gibson
Produced by Fuel



1.    Please take some time to read these instructions before joining us
2.    Then take a seat
3.    Sit in silence
4.    Think about a story you’ve heard in the news that matters to you, something you’d like us to think about.
5.    Feel free to browse today’s newspapers for inspiration.
6.    When the moment seems right, stand and speak your chosen story aloud.
7.    Listen attentively and spend time considering what others have said.
8.    Invent a headline for the story you spoke or contemplated.
9.    Write this headline on the paper you will find under your chair.
10.    Don’t feel you need to fill the silence.
11.    You will be recorded and broadcast locally.

Arrive as separate individuals, with your own particular hopes and fears about this city, country and the world, anxieties and interests in what is happening these days. You will begin to gather as a group, be aware of one another and share the silence, listen and wait.

Think about a recent event you have heard about or read in the news, something that concerns you or gives you hope, which you would like to share. When you feel moved to contribute and the moment seems right, stand and speak the story you’ve been thinking about aloud. If nothing comes to mind, take one of today’s newspapers for inspiration and feel free to read a story out from it.

Anyone may feel the call to speak, but don’t feel that you have to or that the silence should be filled. The brief spoken contributions aim to express what is there in the room, what is called for by the group and what you feel this meeting should be concerned with. Remember to write your headline clearly on the paper you’ll find under your chair.

Because the news stories told are personal to you and from different sources, because you have different insights, there will be various approaches so don’t worry about the words in which your contribution is expressed. This is not a debate and we’re not making speeches, so don’t feel you need to prepare your news story or testimony too much.

The hope is that by the close of the meeting you will feel united as a community around some common good and issues of concern. If the meeting has been well held, you will carry the experience and stories told forward into the coming days and weeks.