Enlightenment House

The Georgian House, 7 Charlotte Square

November 2018- January 2019

A commission from the National Trust for Scotland, Ben was asked to write and direct a site-based work that would celebrate the beauty of number 7 Charlotte Square, a sumptuous Georgian house next door to the First Minister’s official residence.

After being welcomed into the house by the ghost of Robert Adam, its architect (who sadly died before it was complete) the audience join David Hume and Adam Smith as they dine on venison and debate the golden mean and other key ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment such as decorum, order and proportion. They are however horrified as the lights go up to discover an audience of women in gentlemen’s trousers and men without wigs. They are determined to learn more from these creatures from another world.

In the bedroom we meet Susan Ferrier, hallucinating scenes from her great novel Marriage. In another we are given a dancing lesson by Mr Fairlie the dancing master, in the parlour we meet Hume and Smith again, eavesdropping with a claret glass on their new neighbour Nicola Sturgeon, as she discusses independence and the need to stay in Europe. Finally we go below stairs for a warming cup of fashionable hot chocolate and the working class perspective from Mrs McCardie the cook.

Enlightenment House was the first project in a series of commissions designed to bring the arts of theatre to enliven the experience of visiting Scotland’s historic properties.