Call for participants - The Exception and the Rule

Date posted: April 22, 2014



Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, Museum of Non Participation, performance still, 2013.


Are you an artist with a foot in activism, a community organiser, or a small business owner?

Are you someone who questions the status quo?

Are you interested in uncovering structures of power and exclusion?

Are you the exception and the rule?

Artes Mundi has commissioned UK-based artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler to present ‘The Museum of Non Participation’ an instalment of their fictional museum and ongoing body of work that confronts (non) participation and the socio-political in art.

For this presentation, Mirza and Butler are inviting local residents to workshop and stage one of Bertolt Brecht’s short ‘learning plays’ ‘The Exception and the Rule’. The ‘rule’ implies a legal language or a directive, while the ‘exception’ evokes being ungovernable or searching for an alternative to either the state or the free market. Together, they act as both a statement that ‘the rule cannot exist without the exception, and a question as to what a state of exception might be. Through the story of a merchant and his servant, The Exception and the Rule explores themes of capitalism and economics, labour and hierarchy, legislation and state ideology, hiding and secrecy, and the lack of union rights.

The artists invite you to eat, talk, rehearse, and perform together in order to explore and enact how these themes play out in our daily lives, to consider how they can be extended to the audience as active participants.

The ‘Exception and the Rule’ is one of Brecht’s several teaching plays. Brecht himself translated the term as ‘learning play,’ intended to educate people primarily about socialist politics. Typically, this form of political theatre privileges function above content and foregrounds collective teaching and learning through various modes of performance. It attempts to break down any division between author and audience through reflexive gestures that reveal the ’mechanics of theatre’. Through this and other plays, Brecht developed a way for non actors to learn through playing roles, adopting postures, getting rid of the divide between actors and audience, and focusing on process rather than a final project.

Working in the same vein, Mirza and Butler encourage you to enter into the project with the spirit of mutual enrichment and collaboration, where personal experiences/expertise and collective interpretation ultimately converge in the public presentation of the play.

Dates and Rehearsal Times

Wednesday 22nd Oct, 19.00-21.00 informal meet and greet social with players and artists and pot luck dinner.

Friday 24rd Oct Artes Mundi 6 opens

Workshop I

Friday 31st October – 18.00-22.00

Saturday 1st November – 10.00-18.00

Sunday 2nd November – 10.00-18.00

Workshop II

Wednesday 5th November – 18.00-22.00

Thursday 6th November – 18.00-22.00

Friday 7th November – 10.00-18.00


Saturday 8th November – 10.00-12.00 – dress rehearsal

Saturday 8th November –  14.00-15.00 – performance

We ask that applicants commit to being present for all sessions. Your regular participation is essential for the group to work as a whole. Rehearsals will take place at The Lloft at Chapter on the above dates. Please be aware that this space is only accessible by stairs.

The final presentation will form part of EXPERIMENTICA14: CO-EXISTENCE HAS NEVER BEEN EASY, Chapter’s International Festival of Live Art to be held across Cardiff between 5 and 9 November. Participants will each be given a 5-day pass to enjoy the full range of events taking place during the festival. For more information visit

Apply Now

To apply to take part in the workshops and staging of the play, please send:

– a brief biography

– a short 250 word description of your interest in the project

to by 30 September 2014

Please direct any general enquiries to:

Everyone is welcome to apply. 10 people will be selected to take part.

Hospitality and expenses will be offered to the selected participants.

To read about previous staging’s of this work visit:

To find out more about The Museum of Non Participation visit: