Opening Skinner's Box artwork

Groups who enjoy shows that are a little bit extraordinary will make ideal audience members for the stage version of Opening Skinner’s Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century.

The show, which has been adapted for the stage from Laura Slater’s 2004 book of the same name, will run at The Northern Stage in Newcastle from 22nd to 30th April, followed by nine days at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds from 5th to 14th May.

Opening Skinner’s Box has been produced by inventive production company Improbable, who will celebrate their 20th anniversary next year.

The show is co-directed by Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson, and designed by Laura Hopkins.

What’s it about?

‘Why do we love? When would we kill? How do we learn? Why do we believe in the unbelievable? What is memory? Why do we keep doing things that hurt us?’

These were religious and philosophical questions until about a hundred years ago; then science joined the conversation to imply that everything we think about ourselves is wrong.

Inspired by the controversial book by Lauren Slater, Opening Skinner’s Box is a whistle-stop tour of the scientific quest to make sense of what we are and who we are, told through ten great psychological experiments and the stories of the people who created them.


Improbable is a British inventive company, creating anything from intimate, small scale works such as 70 Hill Lane (a theatre show revolving around tape) to massive outdoor spectacles like Sticky, which was the creation of a variety of huge structures, also made of tape.

Another project coming up in the company’s 20th year include Akhnaten from 4th to 18th March, which is an opera about the religious figure of the same name. This will take place at the London Coliseum and is the last of a trilogy of ‘portrait’ operas which looks at figures from science, politics and religion.

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