The Long Table is a dinner party structured by etiquette, where conversation is the only course.

The project combines theatricality and models for public engagement. It is at once a stylised appropriation and an open-ended, non-hierarchical format for participation. Both of these elements – theatrical craft and political commitment – are mutually supporting in this widely and internationally toured work. The (often-feminised) domestic realm here becomes a stage for public thought.

Everyone in the room has the power (and imperative, with the communal interest for a more satisfying discussion) to shift the direction of conversation, to mediate moments of tension and to make space for voices less easily heard.

Interested in hosting your own Long Table?

It's simple. All you need for a Long Table is:

  • the long table

  • chairs

  • a paper tablecloth

  • pens to make comments, to draw, or to scribble ideas

  • an etiquette sheet (which you can see to your right, or you can download it here)

This list of rules for engagement lays the groundwork for talk that is structured in its participatory aspect without being limited in content or access. The Long Table acknowledges the sometimes uncomfortable side of both private exchange and public engagement, while celebrating the potential for new forms of knowledge-making and -sharing.

the backstory

The Long Table is inspired by Marleen Gorris’s film Antonia’s Line, in which the protagonist continually extends her dinner table to accommodate a growing community of outsiders and eccentrics until, finally, the table must be moved out of doors. The Long Table brings what might often be seen as ‘outside’ in – to a realm of conviviality – while showing how everyday, domestic things which might remain hidden can be brought out – into a realm of public ideas and discourse.

when to use a long table:

  • to invite community knowledge around difficult conversations

  • to break down institutional barriers for knowledge

  • to cultivate community

Join our Facebook community page here.

Check out this short film by Claire Nolan for a little more history on the Long Table as told by Lois: