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02 June 2023

Research hits new heights thanks to innovative show

An academic took her research to new heights via an aerial acrobatics show hosted at one of the UK’s leading arts festivals.


Dr Mareike Beck led a cast of acrobats and performers for a special show, Home: The Intimacy of Debt and Inequality, which she produced in support of a research project which examines housing, household debt and the concept of asset-based inequality.

The show featured at this year’s Brighton Fringe festival in front of an audience of more than 180 people and proved to be a resounding success.

Everyone seemed to love the show. The kind of things that people said worked for them was that they could relate to the issues on a different level, rather than just reading about it – they could see it play out in front of them.

Dr Mareike Beck

The show, which took place on 24 May, featured trapeze, contortion, acrobats and dance, with a performance from Dr Beck herself on the aerial rope.

Dr Beck spent months planning and co-ordinating the show as part of her research project, Asset-based inequality in the Age of Asset Management, which investigates how financial assets affect households differently, depending on their place within the income distribution. It is funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Dr Beck said: “Putting on the show was both easy and difficult. Easy because I have done a lot of research in this area so I know all the points I wanted to include in the show. At the same time, it was difficult to know how that would translate on stage so this is why the performers were key.

“The audience didn’t know what to expect because aerial acrobatics and academic research rarely go together, and I think people were pleasantly surprised that it was a good show that wasn’t too bleak despite the topic. A lot of people said that they found themselves in it as well because we have a housing crisis that affects so many.”


Alongside the show, Dr Beck is producing an academic paper, due for a conference in June, and is also working on a podcast mini-series looking at both her research and the experience of producing the show.

Professional performers including Carolyn Ailsa/Twisted Nymph and Kellie and Tam from Brighton-based Blue Moon Circus performed alongside Dr Beck at the Brighton Fringe.