Starring: the Tape Projects company; Lee Anantawit, Cait Foran, Eugenia Lim, Tanja Milbourne, Michael Prior, Zoe Scoglio, Jessie Scott
Appearing at: Victorian Space Science Education Centre (Meet at Next Wave Festival Club, 1000 £ Bend for shuttle bus)
How much do you accept as truth without question, and what is truth anyhow? Tape Projects’ (TAPR) 100 Proofs the Earth is Not a Globe asks the big questions with few words at all.
You have a mission and you won’t be entirely sure what it is. But if you take the time to really observe, the experience all will become clear (or terribly unclear – if you get the point) by the time your ship delivers you back to home base. ‘Try to forget the difference between remembering and imagining,’ you’re told via announcement. You – well, some of you – are clad in laboratory attire. Your name is no longer your own. You are awaiting entry to the facility with the rest of your department. (The other department is god knows where.) You are carrying a rock.
Confused and mildly disoriented, you enter and are herded about the Victorian Space Science Education Centre. There is no time to think; you must do, analyse, hypothesise and justify what it is you see. Or, some of you will; this is just half of the experience. The other half you will discover later, in conversation.
In the show you either have a cerebral journey or an experiential one. I realise this only in chatting with other audience members on the journey back to home base. Half the audience is stressed and feels overloaded. The other half has not realised that they were lab rats, more or less: helpless creatures being observed in strange activity. But it seems they feel far more relaxed, having had to complete physical tasks around the centre rather than our intellectual ones, based around observation. The other group of spectators has been oblivious to their becoming performers as we watched them, unseen.
100 Proofs is rich with ideas, and much has gone into attention to detail. It’s a shame, though, that a lot of this is lost. It’s a case of sensory overload, with people and scenes happening all around the space. Costumes present a mishmash of past and present and there is much to interact with—in the excitement you will desperately want to, but sadly there’s not enough time to digest it all. But perhaps that’s the point. How much do you really see and register for yourself in your immediate environment? You must watch, do, respond, be alert – or you’ll miss something.
The venue is incredibly impressive and Tape Projects have completely transformed parts of the building. It’s visually charged, but the execution of the action presents problems. The audience direction is unclear and inaudible at times, and there is a degree of confusion and rush to meet deadlines for each interactive segment.
TAPR raises some important questions, cleverly using humor to do so. With references to George Bush, the bible, literature, man on the moon, cults and Tom Cruise TAPR provokes questioning of our ideas around belief and illusion and cleverly illustrates the ease in which masses are influenced. What is faith and truth, and how do we justify it? You might laugh your way though your space journey, and it is funny, but you’ll be encouraged to talk about your experience with others over a drink when you arrive back at the Festival Club. (Buy a drink if you can afford to, but despite Next Wave supporting young artists the festival bar is expensive.)
Be aware that you’ll be seated beside someone who had a different experience to yours – make the most of this on the ride home. You might find yourself somewhat surprised at your own thoughts and behavior in retrospect. How much did you justify? Must there always be an answer or reason? And can you avoid falling victim to suggestion? Sit back, enjoy your journey, and you will find out.
100 Proofs the Earth is Not a Globe runs until 28 May. The show has now sold out, but there is a waiting list. Information can be found here.