Tenterhooks: one visual artist and two theatre clowns putting audiences at the heart of the bold and playful performances we make

A bold, playful and emotionally engaging performance for young audiences (age 5-18) with complex additional support needs, and their families. 

MESS has been adapted for Covid-secure performances, with support from Creative Scotland.


MESS tells the story of how an ordinary day in the life of a team of caretakers turns unpredictable when, for the first time ever, they attempt to clean a space which has people in it.

MESS is non-verbal, funny, musical and sensory. It’s a live-action cartoon full of humour, suspense and surprise.

“I’ve never seen such a phenomenal performance. Blown away today. A stunning experience for our children” Langlands Primary, Glasgow

“Above and beyond other experiences – really special. Enjoyable, well-pitched, stimulating, fun, interesting for pupils and for adults. Great example of intensive interaction, the value of silence and non-verbal communication” Castleview School, Stirling

“Such an uplifting and fun, immersive experience for our pupils (and staff!). This is the first theatre experience that has really and truly met the needs of our pupils with more complex needs.” Carrongrange School, Grangemouth 

MESS Creative Team

Produced by Scottish Theatre Producers

Devisers/performers Ben Winger, Diane Thornton, Suzie Ferguson, Kerry Cleland, Ronan McMahon, Carmen Pieraccini, Lucy McGreal 
Designer/Maker Fergus Dunnet
Composer John Kielty
Outside Eye Anna Newell

Creative Consultants Pupils and Staff at Oaklands School, Edinburgh
Schools Tour Photography Mihaela Bodlovic 

Schools Tour Filming Twin City Pictures

MESS-adapted Sound Design Bal Cooke

MESS-adapted Lighting Design James Johnson

MESS 2021 Tour Production Stage Manager Mickey Graham

MESS 2021 Tour Production Photography Eoin Carey

MESS was originally conceived by Ben Winger and developed by the creative team in collaboration with pupils and staff at Mavisbank School, Airdrie. It toured to SEN schools across Scotland Sept 2019 - March 2020.

MESS was supported by Creative Scotland's Touring Fund in July and August 2021. The production toured to venues and private gardens in partnership with Platform, North Edinburgh Arts, Beacon Arts Centre, Macrobert Arts Centre and Eden Court Theatre.

Our 2021 Touring Production was adapted for Covid restrictions and was developed in collaboration with focus group families from Mavisbank School, Airdrie; Hazelwood School, Glasgow; and Riverbrae School, Linwood.

Thanks to National Theatre of Scotland, Southside Studios Glasgow, Surge Scotland, Beacon Arts Centre, Platform, North Edinburgh Arts, Eden Court, Macrobert Arts Centre, GTAC.

images by Eoin Carey