Aurélie Lannoy is part of the Belgian theatre troupe Ontroerend Goed which is bringing its immersive theatre show £¥€$ (LIES) to the OzAsia Festival 2019 in Adelaide in October.
£¥€$ (LIES) is a show about being in control of the world’s finances, which puts audience members in the bankers’ seats.
We recently chatted to Aurélie Lannoy about the show and about audiences reactions to it around the world. Full ticket details can be found at the end of the article.
You are in the show £¥€$ (LIES) which is coming to Adelaide for its Australian premiere at OzAsia Festival in October. Tell us about the show as well as your role in the show.
£¥€$ is an immersive show about money and the world of high finance. We realised that we and the majority of people around us feel that they are little informed as to the functioning of the world economy. Why do crisis repeat themselves over and over and what impact do they really have on our lives. In the end, we know so little about money which is omnipresent.
With £¥€$, the idea is to propose a clearer insight into the world of high finance. As a spectator, you enter a room which has the look of a casino. You are seated at a table with 6 other spectators and you become banks. Opposite you, the actor is your guide, your croupier during the show. It’s this person who invites you to invest, throwing the dice, explains the risks but it’s you who decides.
It’s this role of croupier that I play in this play. The challenge once we find ourselves with 7 spectators opposite us is to take everyone into the metaphor. The text is fixed of course, but there’s an improvised part because the people opposite us interact. After each show, we continue to share our experiences between actors which allows us to refine the script and give the best possible experience to the spectator.
Tell us about the company Ontroerend Goed?
The company has existed for about 20 years and started as a poetry collective. It has evolved since then producing artforms from individual performances for a single spectator (The Smile off Your Face, Internal, A Game of You) to larger productions for large theatres (A History Of Everything – en collaboration avec la Sydney Theatre Company, Fight Night, Sirens, Are We Not Drawn Onward To New Era, World Without Us, Loopstation).
With Alexander Devriendt as Artistic Director, we are always trying to come up with creations which are anchored in the here and now and which invite the spectator to reflect on his or her position as an individual in the world today. The subject that we want to talk about guides the form that the show will take. We don’t censor ourselves about the form. It can be a lot of things, the most important is that it best serves the subject.
Ontroerend Goed operates on the following concept: each person having contributed to the work becomes its “owner”. For us, theatre is essentially an experience which is shared, in all of its aspects.
Ontroerend Goed has already been to Adelaide for the Adelaide Fringe and Adelaide Festivals with Internal and A Game of You. How is £¥€$ (LIES) different to the other shows that you’ve performed in Adelaide?
We also presented The Smile off your Face, a performance for which we won a Fringe First Award. It was the start of our Australian adventures. We then came back a few years later to perform A Game of You and Internal. These three performances, in which the spectator finds him/herself alone or almost alone opposite an actor, are part of a trilogy in which we amused ourselves by rethinking theatre’s codes. We wanted to offer the spectator a personal experience in which (s)/he finds her/himself as the protagonist.
A few years passed between this trilogy and £¥€$; we were able to put forward other forms, often for larger theatres and in a more frontal manner but always with the same idea of engaging the spectator.
With £¥€$ we wanted to come back to something immersive. We wanted to make the spectator feel that (s)/he could be in the place of these traders engaging in this simulation of the economic world in a direct and emotional manner.
What £¥€$ could have in common with the trilogy of individual performances is that the immersive and interactive character highlights certain human comportements. In £¥€$, we can clearly observe excitement related to wins, to the desire to make a profit.
The company Ontroerend Goed makes immersive theatre. The show £¥€$ (LIES) gives the audience the chance to be a banker. Do audiences around the world react the same way or are there sometimes surprises for you?
The different audiences that we have met are, in the end, quite similar. Some people in particular are different to others. At the same table, you can have someone who is very timid who opens up more and more during the show and finishes up as a leader, and with someone who is very extroverted who ends up being the most prudent. Others feel good until they lose. Negative energies can take over. Some people completely forget that they are at the theatre and that we are actors.
It’s quite fascinating and at times confronting bit it’s the risk that we take in presenting this kind of device. It’s up to us to be ready to welcome all possible reactions and to continue to include each person with their own character, and their own story. As an actor, the ideal is to engage in the show without prejudgment (a priori). There aren’t good or bad spectators. After a while, we feel a little like a psychologist, it’s thrilling to decrypt the profiles of the people you have opposite you and to create with them.
Similarly, in your experience are there genders that take more risks? Or younger or older people?
We expect that older people might be more conservative or that the younger ones will have a taste for risk but we have been surprised to see that what we often expect of people isn’t true. As for the genders, I haven’t observed any particular difference as to who is willing to take risks. In contrast, there is something that often recurs at a certain moment in the play, when we ask the spectators/bankers to decide who the financial expert at the table is. We sadly notice that in most cases, men are the ones who put themselves forward or are elected by the others.
You work as an actress, as a creator and as an artist. Do each of these different hats give you different things?
Absolutely, and for a few years, I also translate shows into French like £¥€$ that we have just performed at the festival d’Avignon.
It’s beautiful and rare to be able to have confidence in everyone within a company and to each assume different responsibilities. Each activity feeds another and gives the impression of always learning more artistically but also about yourself and about the other creators and actors with whom we spend a lot of time in creation and especially on tour.
In £¥€$ (LIES), there are some Belgian artists as well as some artists from Hong Kong. How did you find the Hong Kong artists and are you all based in Belgium? Where did the idea of working with artists from Hong Kong come from?
The company is based in Ghent but we regularly work with artists from other countries. The core £¥€$ team is made up of Belgians, Dutch and an Englishman. The group then got bigger with the French version.
We also had the chance to train other actors abroad for a remake of the show in Russia, in Kazakhstan and in Hong Kong.
For OzAsia Festival, the idea was to make a team mixed with actors from Hong Kong. We are pleased to share this experience with them.
Is there a message in £¥€$ (LIES)?
We don’t preach the truth. Besides if we knew how to prevent financial crises from happening and to avoid their impacts on millions of people, we would be rich! But in proposing this glimpse of reality, we hope to enlighten spectators as to the system’s faults and to eventually make them wonder “If it were me, if I was in the bankers’ place, would I do things differently?”
Anything else that you would like to tell us?
We are very happy to come back to Australia to present £¥€$.
DATES & TICKETS
There are 6 performances of £¥€$ (LIES) at OzAsia Festival 2019:
- Sat, 19 Oct 2019, 4:00PM
- Sat, 19 Oct 2019, 7:30PM
- Sun, 20 Oct 2019, 3:00PM
- Sun, 20 Oct 2019, 6:00PM
- Mon, 21 Oct 2019, 6:00PM
- Tue, 22 Oct 2019, 6:00PM
Venue: Space Theatre
- Adults: $49.00
- Concession: $44.00
- Greenroom members: $35.00
Tickets can be purchased via https://www.ozasiafestival.com.au/events/lies/
If you’re interested in finding out about other OzAsia Festival 2019 shows, you may also like to read our interview with Hadi Zeidan about his shows coming to OzAsia in October and November 2019.