A new participatory theatre production is offering you the chance to get free money. All you need to do is agree with your fellow theatregoers on how to spend it. Disagree, and the money is gone.
A cross between a game and a theatrical performance, The Money is about deciding how to spend a pot of real cash. The premise is simple: sit at a table, spend the money however you want, and be as creative as you like. The only rules are that the decision must be unanimous, and it must be within the law. If these conditions aren’t met, the money rolls over to the next session.
The brainchild of artistic director Seth Honnor of Kaleider productions, The Money taps into questions of the human psyche and examines our fascination with the ideas of wealth and ownership. “We are totally enthralled by this thing we have developed called ‘ownership,’” says Honnor. “It is a very strange idea in some ways and money is a counting system for that ownership.”
There are two ways to participate – as a Silent Witness or a Player. As a Player, you’ve paid for the privilege. Others watch on as Silent Witnesses, but it is the Players who will decide how to spend the money on the table. Silent Witnesses can buy in at any time and that could change everything.
Working within a strict time limit, The Money can bring out the best and worst in people. How are important civic decisions reached? Can we confront the hard questions about the responsibility of wealth? “The Money isn’t really about money,” says Honnor. “It is about us and the relationship that we have with it. It is about the illumination of the human condition and here I have created a game where people can playfully explore the edges of their human condition and the role they want to play in society, albeit on a micro-scale.”
The Money is an innovative creative experience, and has played prestigious civic venues around the world including the UK Houses of Parliament, Edinburgh City Chambers, and Lisbon City Hall, to name a few.
Honnor says that throughout the production’s experience, there have been several common ideas on how the money should be spent. “Some things come up in every show, such as going out and giving it to the first person you see, giving it to a homeless person or a Big Issue seller.”
Honnor says his favourite solution was when a team decided to give it to the person who had the eldest relative. “A few months after the show, I received this email from the venue telling me that the winner had travelled over 200 miles to visit her grandfather and have tea and share the story with him, and I just thought ,‘Wow what an incredible journey.’”
Kaleider are bringing The Money to Australia, and Honnor hopes that the production will leave people questioning bigger ideas about wealth and ownership. “The Money gets under people’s skin and doesn’t really go away. I hope that somehow it stays with people and gives them food for thought about the way we are with each other and the way we are in the world.”
The Money will be showing as part of The Antidote festival at Sydney Opera House between Saturday 2 September and Sunday 3 September. For tickets and more information see the website here