INSIDE CRACK – Calling on the Audience

An interview with Grant Moxom, Felicity Nicol and Melissa Lee Speyer
By Alex Morris @Nemiwai

L-R: Felicity Nicol, Grant Moxom, Melissa Lee Speyer

L-R: Felicity Nicol, Grant Moxom, Melissa Lee Speyer

Grant Moxom doesn’t believe the government is spying on us. He thinks we’re spying on ourselves by supplying businesses with data and statistics.

“The businesses and companies who collect our information are not our friends,” Grant said.

The technical director and devisor has a background in IT, psychology and performance studies. Together he, Felicity Nicol and Melissa Lee Speyer make up Epiphany Now. Theatre director Felicity and Grant went to uni together. Melissa is a writer and dramaturg who met Felicity through NIDA.

The trio are Sydney-based, and they will be performing Project 84 for the first time at Crack Theatre Festival, representing NSW under the Setting the Stages initiative.

They don’t want to give away exactly what the audience can expect during their performance, but they will say it involves the audience’s mobile phones. Creating an unrehearsed ensemble, they want to critique the public’s willingness to be controlled by their phones.

“I started tinkering with an idea of working with Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four several years ago, while I was studying directing. I started to realise the majority of pieces I was working with dealt with surveillance and power, and it kept reminding me of Nineteen-Eighty-Four.” Felicity said.

Felicity loved what Grant was doing with theatre and technology and the two began working together and quickly realised they needed a writer. Felicity and Grant said Mel was the perfect choice for this show as she not only writes but also is a privacy, security and communications lawyer.

Like Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four, their 45-minute-long show extrapolates an imagined future from the things that worry them about contemporary society. The performance uses a reworked-call-system, which will allow the audience to go on a synchronized, instructional journey, Crack is the first place it will be performed.

“Nineteen-Eighty-Four is about governments manipulating people, telling them not to step out of line. In our imagined world of 2084, privacy is still a concept being eroded, but instead of it being done by an oppressive governmental force, it’s the rest of society sharing information about each other and organisations like Google and Apple gathering that information,” Melissa said. “Orwell was more concerned with communism, and we’re more concerned with capitalism.”

“Orwell was afraid of a world where the government would control people,” Grant said. “We are predicting a world where we make constant decisions to sacrifice our freedoms for convenience.”

Though they are working with some heavy themes, they want to make known they aren’t trying to be intellectual and the play involves an orgy scene.

“There’s constantly role play or silliness going on,” Felicity said.
“It’s really chilled, relaxed and playful,” Grant adds.
Felicity hopes that after their performance, the audience feels encouraged to update their privacy settings on Facebook.
“We are devaluing our information, just so that Google can tell us when our bus comes,” she said.