"Together with fantastic acting and direction, the entire performance was a spectacle, not only of entertainment, but of necessity."
Lippy Magazine on 'Do You Expect Me to Talk?' in Leeds, 2013
"‘Do You Expect Me To Talk?’ was an authentic yet achingly honest performance, speaking on behalf of a group whose voice isn’t often heard."
stage@leeds blog, 2013
The definition of 'incognito' is to disguise yourself, to hide, to conceal your identity.
We aim to do the opposite of this - we're Cognito.
The Cognito People, formerly known as just Cognito Theatre, was founded by Jude Taylor in 2012, with the support of Leicester's Curve Theatre and their Young Arts Entrepreneurs scheme. We are an informal collective of writers, artists and performers (sometimes we are all of these at once, and more) who work to create art that doesn't just entertain, but engages a range of different people on current issues.
Through our work we aim to explore issues, create discussion and help make change happen. Sometimes the most important conversations are the hardest to have - so we use art, theatre and performance to help.
With Curve's support, we debuted our first work in 2012, a project entitled 'Do You Expect Me to Talk?', challenging mental health stigma and raising awareness. Through funding from Curve, we developed and toured a performance installation in Leicester encouraging discussion on the topic, taking it from an empty shop space to Curve’s foyer.
From September 2012, we relocated the DYEMTT project up to Leeds and York for further development thanks to funding from O2′s Think Big Scheme. Working with a number of undergraduate and postgraduate students from the University of Leeds and the University of York, we developed a small set of original monologues and duologues based on the findings of the installation. The performance premiered at stage@leeds at the end of February 2013, and was also presented as part of the first ‘Upstairs at the Western‘ season at The Western back in Leicester in April .
In February/ March 2014 Cognito embarked on our biggest Leeds-based project to date – a new installation work entitled ‘Being Moritz’placed in the West Yorkshire Playhouse, based on the character of Moritz Stiefel from Headlong Theatre and Anya Weiss’ new adaptation of Wedekind’s Spring Awakening. The installation was also produced in collaboration with YoungMinds to promote further awareness and understanding of young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing in relation to the launch of their YoungMinds Vs campaign. The installation itself invited audience members to step into the shoes of the troubled character Moritz and referenced issues and events from the play, to encourage audiences to consider the significance of sexual and academic pressures to young people today.
Thanks to a Leeds Pride community grant, in summer 2016 we launched 'Whose Gender Is It Anyway?', a new project engaging with young people living in Leeds who identify as transgender. Over the Leeds Pride weekend in August, we delivered a closed creative workshop to members of the community. Cognito artists then produced a small installation piece over the course of one afternoon, highlighting the key themes and issues explored through the workshop, and anoymously sharing art, poetry, stories and experiences. This installation was then showcased in the Leeds City Museum at the end of the Pride weekend - celebrating the experiences of local young trans people, but most importantly feeding back what needs to happen to create change.
Since 'Do You Expect...' we have also facilitated workshops and educational work in various settings based on the work of our main projects. This has included:
Workshops in primary schools on mental health, wellbeing and talking about our feelings (DYEMTT?)
Mini workshops for GCSE and A Level Drama students in schools
Workshops with amateur young actors in Leicester (DYEMTT?)
Workshops supporting young student writers (DYEMTT? - Leeds Uni/York Uni)
Training and workshop for Leeds Uni staff and students working in welfare (Whose Gender Is It Anyway?)
We can work with you to offer workshops, educational work and training and tailor sessions to your needs. Please get in touch if you think we could help you out.