TRUTHMACHINE | Counter Pilot

“Yes … ish”

“More than half?

“I like it WHERE?”

Recently, I realised that I’m a bit of a masochist.

Specifically, it was when I was sitting in a dimly lit room in front of a group of strangers AND my partner, strapped into a lie detector, being asked questions about things not even my nearest and dearest know.

Yes, I actively chose to be hooked up to a heart rate monitor and skin conductivity tester, under a spotlight, with a microphone monitoring my breathing and responses. Nothing to be nervous about at all, right? Particularly in front of my partner.

Not a masochist at all.

“6% chance of deception” “11% ….” “36% chance of deception.”

FUCK. Was that a lie? Did I lie? Why didn’t she believe me? What is my partner thinking?

What is my relationship with the truth?

But this was not just about me. Being a Counter Pilot production, TRUTHMACHINE actively involved everyone in the room. Each audience member had to vote first on questions relating to what truth means to them personally, before assessing whether or not they thought I was telling the truth under investigation. The whole idea of truth was under investigation. And the audience was forced to ask themselves, does this even matter anymore?

TRUTHMACHINE is the latest production from Brisbane-based, Matilda Award winning company, Counter Pilot. Part social experiment, part play, part immersive theatre piece, TRUTHMACHINE explores the audience’s relationship with the truth in a post-truth world.

TRUTHMACHINE explores the philosophy of truth, the ins and outs of the workings of lie detection and asks the audience to vote on what truth means to us. We could see each of our responses by colour emanating from our voting devices. I was chosen as the test subject, but each member of the audience was asked to analyse and comment on my responses.

To say much about the show would ruin the experience.

Now, I know that there are many who find immersive theatre about as appealing as watching online videos where ads cut in every 5 seconds. Be assured that you can choose to opt out of being selected for the lie detector and to just be one of the voting audience.

It is still an intimate experience though. You’re in a room around a table with a small group of people all looking at each other, confronting personal questions, so if you prefer your theatre being nice and safely ensconced in the stalls, TRUTHMACHINE might not be for you.

Now I love immerse theatre. Live for it even. My first time experiencing Punch Drunk’s The Drowned Man was as close to a religious experience I’ve ever had in my life. I love it for the opportunity to interact with new worlds, to test yourself and your possibilities. More than most immersive pieces, TRUTHMACHINE pushed me to question how far I wanted to immerse myself though and I loved that. I was nervous, but never felt unsafe. It was always clear that I could opt out at time. If you’re up for it, I highly recommend you test how you live truth in public.

With TRUTHMACHINE, Counter Pilot has created another innovative, immersive multimedia piece that confronts and pulls apart one of issue of our times; what does it mean to live in a post-truth world? It pushes the audience out of their comfort zone and forces them to confront their understanding of themselves, how they share that with the wider world and whether they can believe those around. Whether or not you are chosen to be interrogated by the TRUTHMACHINE, you’ll find yourself second guessing the words of your loved ones and those in the public eye long after the show.

Go on, I dare you, face the TRUTHMACHINE yourself and see how honest you really are.

Ads J saw TRUTHMACHINE on 10 September as a part of the 2019 Brisbane Festival. TRUTHMACHINE plays at the Theatre Republic until 21 September.

Direction | Nathan Sibthorpe
Sound design | Mike Willmett
Software design | Clinton Freeman
Technical design | John Felmingham & Christine Felmingham
Production design | Sarah Winter
Performance | Paige Poulier
Voices | Lucas Stibbard, Kylie Stephenson, Kate O’Sullivan & Paul Davies
Additional collaborators | Toby Martin, Sean Dowling
Imagery | Sean Dowling & Kate O’Sullivan
Model | Xanthe Jones
Produced by | Metro Arts
Special thanks | Matt Seery, Jo Thomas, Shani Gould & Verity Woodford

Leave a Reply