In the world of entertainment, light-hearted generally trumps serious-minded every time. But sometimes you want a night out that makes you think hard, something that opens up your mind to new ways of seeing and new challenges. Of course, you can normally get all the cod-philosophy you like down the local pub, but it’s generally pot luck as to what intellectual gems you’ll emerge with and there’s always the danger that what started as an amicable airing of opposing opinions will descend into a beer-goggled mire of incoherent squabbling and point-scoring. No one’s the winner here.
Well if you’re looking for a night of intellectual enlightenment and horizon-expansion (minus the air of cocky pretentiousness that sometimes accompanies these things) then what you want is 5×15. It’s like a physical version of Radio 4’s In Our Time, except without the unifying theme; five speakers, usually from wildly differing arenas, talk for fifteen minutes on whatever subject they choose, and the only rule being there’s no scripts. Set in the Tabernacle in Notting Hill, the best thing is the calibre of the speakers and the diverse range of subjects – past guests have included writer Will Self, campaigner Camila Batmanghelidjh and pyschologist Simon Baron Cohen (yep, brother of Sacha) with talks on subjects such as evil, the importance free of speech and the future of theatre. On April’s billing will be Nigerian writer Ben Okri (pictured) and neuroscientist and journalist Jonah Lehrer in a session that’s sure to be as passionate and informative as their respective works. (Words: Jane Duru)
5×15 takes place on April 16th and April 30th. For more info visit www.5x15stories.com