High-stakes experience puts you in the banker’s seat

The theatre company that brought the much-talked-about one-on-one show The Smile Off Your Face to Adelaide Fringe and Festival will return with a new high-stakes, roller-coaster experience announced as one of six early-release OzAsia highlights.

Jul 09, 2019, updated Jul 09, 2019
You're invited to the gaming table with Ontroerend Goed's £¥€$. Photo: Thomas Dhanens

You're invited to the gaming table with Ontroerend Goed's £¥€$. Photo: Thomas Dhanens

The early-release shows are intended to whet audiences’ appetites ahead of the full program reveal for the October 17 – November 3 OzAsia Festival.

Among them are a play by renowned Taiwan-based playwright Stan Lai, Malaysian pop singer Siti Nurhaliza, high-energy Japanese show Techno Circus, and Belgium-based theatre company Ontroerend Goed’s £¥€$.

Ontroerend Goed has previously brought shows to both the Adelaide Fringe and Adelaide Festival, including The Smile Off Your Face, which was first presented at the Fringe in 2008 and then again as part of a trilogy at the Festival five years later. With audience members blindfolded and bound in a wheelchair, it was described by an ArtsHub reviewer as “the most personal and intimately erotic journey you are likely to ever take”.

The company’s 2014 Festival production, Fight Night, invited the audience to take part in a live election with actors as political candidates, and £¥€$ – which can be read as “lies”, “eyes”, or pound, yen, euro and dollar – gives ticket-holders the opportunity to take the chairs of the super-rich in an interactive performance about the global financial system.

£¥€$ includes performers from a Hong Kong version of the show which was presented in Cantonese and toured to the Macao Festival.

OzAsia artistic director Joseph Mitchell says the first round of shows announced hints at the “dynamic range of experiences” to be revealed at the full program launch on August 6, “including a fresh mix of immersive, interactive and genre-bending works, alongside outstanding large-scale productions by some of our OzAsia Festival favourites from previous years”.

Here, Ontroerend Goed artistic director Alexander Devriendt gives InDaily an insight into what audience members can expect from £¥€$. (Scroll down for details of the other early-release OzAsia highlights).

We’re told participants in this show sit in groups around gaming tables and participate in an experience one reviewer has described as resembling “an extreme game of monopoly”. What happens and what kind of decisions do people have to make?

A lot happens and it all has to do with money – a concept I hope people will understand more about after seeing this show. The audience has to make decisions about what to do with their money: invest it, loan it, risk it on high-risk investments. They have a lot of options in this show.

Photo: Michiel Devijver

What emotions does the experience trigger?

Is greed an emotion? There’s definitely some of that. Also suspicion, the big high of winning big and jealousy (of someone else’s success) certainly play a part. In total, it’s quite the rollercoaster.

Do people start to enjoy the power and embrace risk-taking moves?

Wouldn’t you? You probably would. Almost everybody gets enthralled by money, especially when offered a chance to make some. Also, it’s clearly a game and a piece of theatre, so people are inclined to take higher risks then they would with their own hard-earned money in real life.

It did give me some understanding about how high risks are sometimes the only way to “make” it big. Somebody who does not take them will never really have huge piles of coins in front of him.

Are there consequences?

Yes. You might realise something about bankers. They are human and very often have no real clue what they are doing. Being ruled by money is maybe a consequence in itself, but it sure beats never having any.

Everybody in this show gets to be amongst the really rich for one night, but question remains if you will do any better.

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What insight does £¥€$ seek to provide about our economic system and the psychology of how it operates?

It seeks to make you understand how the latest financial crash happened by making you live it. Also, you might understand something about being really rich, being a banker and the choices you would have to face on a daily basis.

The rules of the financial world are very often not the most difficult part of it, but learning that wins and losses are part of it for everyone might be a tough lesson. Also, protecting yourself too much from loss might cause real damage to the system and there are moral questions involved.

Is it inspired by a specific real-life event or series of events?

It’s inspired by the rules of the monetary world and how they evolved from the 1930s stock market crash until now.

Many Adelaide people saw and loved your Personal Trilogy and Fight Night experiences – will this show appeal to the same kind of audiences, even if they aren’t savvy about currencies, share trading and economic systems?

Yes, £¥€$ is a good follow-up to Fight Night, the last play of ours that made it into Adelaide. Ontroerend Goed has a style of theatre-making that is recognisable. This show does for the financial world what Fight Night does for politics… and you definitely didn’t have to be a politician to enjoy voting people off the stage in that play.

Other 2019 OzAsia Festival shows announced today are:

The Village: a play written and directed by Stan Lai, who wrote the classic contemporary Chinese play Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, presented during last year’s OzAsia. The Village shares the joys and trials of three families over three generations in what are known as Taiwan’s Dependents’ Villages.

Beyond Skin – Revisited: A performance by multi-award-winning musician and composer Nitin Sawhney, marking 20 years since his seminal album, Beyond Skin.

Techno Circus.

Techno Circus: America’s Got Talent finalists SIRO-A perform alongside technology, including light animation and laser projection, in a show which also features mime, dance, comedy, puppetry and high-energy music.

What the Day Owes to the Night: A project by French-Algerian dancer and choreographer Hervé Koubi which explores his Algerian connection and is performed by 12 dancers, most of whom have a background in street dance or hip-hop.

Siti Nurhaliza: A solo show by multi-award-winning pop singer-songwriter Siti Nurhaliza, described as “the Celine Dion of Malaysia”.

Details of all early-release shows can be found on the OzAsia Festival website. £¥€$ will be presented at the Space Theatre from October 17-21.

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