Last weekend, I took part in Coney’s “Early Days” performance, which was part of the IBT program at the Arnolfini. The resulting show had me immersed in the absolute chaos and destruction of politics; revolutions, corruption, bickering, throwing money, and cake-based assassination attempts. The show perfectly presented the hysterical absurdity within the workings of government.
The show was driven by the audience, who became the government of a fictional, post-revolution country, desperate in the need of order and reform. Audience members became grouped representatives of different regions of this country, and tried to build the most wealth in their particular region. This could be done through deciding on popular policies in response to issues brought up by the public, investing (or should that be gambling) in a stock market, and creating culture for the new nation.
I found myself in the role of a civil servant, to which I had to deliver information and regional issues to the representatives and reward them money based on how well I feel they had decided on certain policies. This instantly made me realise that I had a good amount of power over the representatives, in the way that I could personally favour one person’s view over another in rewarding them with more money. I soon recognized that I could be a part of corruption within this system. Nail biting stuff indeed.
The way the auditorium was used for the show was inventive. The centre of the space was used primarily for the audience, and the tables for particular regions for which the audience had to debate around were illuminated with colourful lights, giving the atmosphere quite a spooky, almost theatrical feel (see picture).
Around the audience, there included a roulette-wheel (symbolising the stock market), a cultural corner (to create chalk-drawn art and to sing national anthems), a library (to discover the history of the country), an army recruitment corner (for those regions that had become bankrupt to join) and an embassy to a neighbouring country to which we had just become independent from. A 24-hour live news bulletin was projected onto a big screen, which was satirically funny, but also informative of the narrative around us.
I had really enjoyed the show. It was playful and humorous, but also thought-provoking and alarming, highlighting the confused, hectic nature of politics, which is especially relevant after the events of the Arab spring and the 2011 summer riots.