A room full of expectation, suggestion and infectious rhythm. What is fake and what is real?

Seven dancers reckon with the placebo effect – attempting a series of experiments to discover what gives them pleasure and what dulls their pain. Movements are repackaged, distorted, multiplied and abandoned, propelled by a rich original score that sweeps mischievously through euphoric club tracks to classical fugues.

With costumes designed by cult fashion collective Art School and text from legendary performance artist Peggy Shaw. Commissioned by The Place.

Placebo is underpinned by recent research into the “placebo response” – a measurable effect which occurs when a person is given a treatment considered ‘fake’ or ‘inactive’, but experiences an improvement in health regardless. Placebo layers light, sound and movement to invite us to question how framing and expectations affects our experiences.

Placebo is accompanied by The Power of Placebo, a national programme of events that bring together scientists, artists, ethicists and anthropologists, to explore how our attitudes, beliefs, relationships, rituals and environments can affect our health for better or for worse.


Direction – Suzy Willson
Music – Paul Clark
Costume – Art School
Lighting – Hansjörg Schmidt
My Lonely Lungs monologue – Peggy Shaw
Dramaturgical Consultant – Stephen Brown
Rehearsal Director – Christopher Akrill

Performers – Brian Caillet, Chihiro Kawasaki, Elisabeth Schilling, Nathan Goodman, Omar Gordon, Valerie Ebuwa, Yen-Ching Lin

Lead image – Manuel Vason
Production images – Camilla Greenwell & Hugo Glendinning
Video – Lisa Cazzato Vieyra

Thank you:
Rachele Rapisardi, Ino Riga, Leon Baugh, Jonathan Baker, Sam Coren, Maëva Berthelot, Riccardo T., Nicolas Ricchini, Titilayo Adebayo, Anders Duckworth, James Finnemore, Roseanna Anderson, Taylor Han, students at London Contemporary School of Dance, Professor Jon Stone, Bridge Co, Amy Shelton, Simone Stewart, Wales Millennium Centre and Cardiff Dance Festival.


“Smart and funny”
★★★★ The Guardian

“Clod Ensemble always pushes the boundaries of what dance can be, and this is no exception”
★★★★ The Londonist

“playfully deconstructs [contemporary dance] with wit, humour and intelligence” ★★★★ The Reviews Hub

“Paul Clark’s score is sublime, layering multi-instrumental textures, beats, and tightly synchronised samples of the voices”
Seeing Dance

Supported by

The Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation
The Foyle Foundation

Performed at

Salford. The Lowry. 11 – 13 October 2018.
Brighton. Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. 16 – 17 October 2018.
Preston. Derelict at UCLan. 19 – 20 October.
London. The Place. 30 October – 10 November 2018.