FOR YOUR FUTURE GUIDANCE
19/03/2015 - 22/03/2015
20/02/2013 - 24/02/2013
21/02/2015 - 22/02/2015
26/02/2013 - 01/03/2013
20/03/2013 - 23/03/2013
SURVIVING IN THE AGE OF BUSINESS SHORTS
Help in is on the horizon for citizens anxious about what the future holds. For Your Future Guidance is an interactive performance – the latest by ground-breaking theatre collective, Binge Culture – in the style of a self-help seminar aimed at giving the participants the skills and knowledge to survive in the coming decades.
Far from being uncertain, the leading experts in Binge Culture draw upon projection models and research trips into the future to provide a comprehensive vision of what the world will look like.
“Fear of the unknown can be crippling, we call it ‘future-tension’”, says Performer and co-creator Joel Baxendale, “anthropogenic extinction, global nuclear annihilation, overpopulation, catastrophic climate change, large-scale volcanism, or global accidental pandemics of such virulence and infectiousness that very few humans survive, are all credible scenarios. We clear this up and offer a rare glimpse of certainty.”
Baxendale says the company wants people to be confident going into the future and that the lessons they deliver will inform people about all aspects of life – from global politics and economics to changes in social norms, fashion and popular culture. The second part of the seminar is to help people adjust to their imminent new reality and give them a chance to practice coping mechanisms.
Binge Culture is an award-winning theatre company from Wellington. They last performed in Auckland in early 2012 as part of the New Performance Festival at The Edge. Their show Wake Less was singled out by theatre reviewers as a highlight of the festival. Veterans of NZ Fringe Festivals, they were awarded Most Original Production at the 2009 Dunedin Fringe Festival, and “Best Newcomers” and “Best Outdoors” at the 2009 and 2010 NZ Fringe Festivals.
The team behind Binge Culture’s 2013 Fringe projects is Joel Baxendale, Simon Haren, Isobel MacKinnon, Fiona McNamara, Claire O’Loughlin and Ralph Upton.
NZ FRINGE, Wellington
For Your Future Guidance
20 – 24 February, 9pm
Thistle Hall, 293 Cuba Street, Wellington
Tickets: http://www.bingeculture.co.nz/bookings-fringe-2013.html and door sales
Apprehensive Aucklanders will have to get in quick to secure a place at one of only four seminars, being held at Co.Space on K-Road at 6.30pm from Tuesday 26 February – Friday 1 March, before Binge Culture take their message to other parts of New Zealand.
FOR YOUR FUTURE GUIDANCE plays
26th February – 1st March, 6:30pm
Venue: Co.Space at Biz Dojo, 155 Basement – Karangahape Road
Tickets: Full $15, Concessions $12
Bookings: iTicket – www.iticket.co.nz or 09 361 1000
Dunedin Fringe 2013
March 21, 22, 23;
8:00pm (21-23), 2:00pm (23)
HAMILTON GARDENS ARTS FESTIVAL 2015
Where: Victorian Garden Greenhouse
When: Sat 21 & Sun 22 Feb 2015
Tickets: Standard: $2
La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
March 19, 20 & 22 2015 at 6pm
Theatre , Site-specific/site-sympathetic ,
Review by Gail Pittaway 23rd Feb 2015
In Binge Culture’s For Your Future Guidance, an engaging young man (called Joel on his name badge) hosts the audience in a seminar on how to manage our anxieties about the present and future.
Even though it’s billed as a theatre show it’s hard not to be drawn in to the seminar context and become part of it all, with stick-on name badges, the small shiny card with Velcro on which we are to write our predictions for the future, and the post-its and packet of mini coloured pens – all essential props for any such event.
However some of Joel’s analogies are ridiculous and his insights less than insightful, all of which makes for some subtle comedy as well. Almost too sincere for the role of team builder and inspirational leader, Joel is disarming, charming and quick to respond to any suggestions or queries for the delegates, who good-naturedly enter into the spirit of the show.
We stand and chant a mantra, fill in our name badges and write our predictions for the future or dutifully stand and step sideways to give us a break.
Joel tells us we’ll do three things: consider our anxieties, think about ourselves in the future, and think of ways to manage the future and our anxieties – which all boils down to the old ‘pessimism is the best defence’ theory.
An impressive time-line is stretched literally across a makeshift line which appropriately can’t sustain the weighty predictions we stick on with our Velcro-backed ideas; it frequently flops down to the floor. Unperturbed, Joel explains how time is like an aubergine – or how it is relative and variable. But we are invited to and enjoy considering where on the time line – from 2015 to 2030 – NZ might change its flag for example, or China might supersede the USA as dominant world power, or when the Auckland housing bubble will burst.
While a 20s to 40s age group would find it hilarious, the audience here is mostly over 40 or young professionals, and all too familiar with the seminar experience, so the tension between the set up and the content becomes more subtle. But still it’s a most engaging event and we all participate cheerfully and with enthusiasm.
While the content doesn’t deviate much from the stock routines of the business model, which is an extremely artificial way of getting people to think along certain lines, where this one deviates is that it makes us think about what we think – and doesn’t force us into a particular philosophy at all. Above all it’s fun.
The end of the show brings a surprise which I can’t reveal, but reminds us that it was all an entertainment, not a real seminar. Even then as we participate in the final ritual of sharing advice and regrets, we benefit from having been given a moment to reflect but we all go out feeling remarkably refreshed.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Deadpan humour and understated irony
Review by Kimberley Buchan 21st Mar 2013
Billed as theatre, For Your Future Guidance is a seminar on how to predict and prepare for the future.
In spite of the quirky topic it has the feeling of inevitability and unease that all seminars do. Upon entering you attach your name sticker somewhere on your person. There are the obligatory talk to your neighbour ice breaker exercises. Inspirational quotes are projected on the wall. Visual aids are used to accompany overblown metaphors about how to approach the concept of time.
In keeping with the style, this is not a performance to be passively viewed. In many cases the audience do more work than the performers. A timeline of events is collaboratively pieced together. The awkward role play is given a lift with some wry performances from the audience members.
During a quick response exercise in which participants are more focused on whether they will catch the ball or not a medieval time lord shows up. A curiously sombre mood descends upon the room and he helps us to send messages back to our past selves.
Ralph Upton and Joel Baxendale have created a work that relies on deadpan humour. Upton hits some of it spot on, but the humour could have been enhanced with sharper timing in many cases. This is a seminar presented with understated irony rather than used car salesman ebullience.
Your opinion of For Your Future Guidance will depend upon the frame of mind with which you enter the room. If you are feeling tired and jaded it will not entertain. If you are feeling fresh and animated you will be able to infuse the show with your energy and keep the pace from lagging. The small but congenial audience responded well to all the demands made of them.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
A relaxed and playful interactive experience
Review by Glen Pickering 27th Feb 2013
“Write your name on the sticker,” says the door man. “Go downstairs. The bar’s open, grab a drink.” It’s not open, so I can’t. Maybe I’m early. There are only 3 of us here.
Joel Baxendale, our seminar leader approaches, introduces himself and asks us if we would mind setting up chairs into a semicircle. It’s all very relaxed at Co.Space at Biz Dojo, a hub for creativity enterprise. It not too long before other audience members arrive and the seminar begins.
“Stand up. Step left. Step left. Step right. Feel like you’ve been here before?” Yes, yes I do. “Sit down.”
For your future Guidance is run exactly as the press release states, as “a self-help seminar aimed at giving the participants the skills and knowledge to survive in the coming decades.”
The seminar begins with us repeating the courses rhyming mantra (translated from the Swedish) then we kick off into a timeline for future events. Joel informs us we have the ability to predict the future better than we know and our abilities are put to the test.
We each get an opportunity to collect a note that has bold statements such as “The polar icecaps will disappear completely”, “Cure for Alzheimer’s” or “Your relationship will end”. Our job is to place them on the timeline when we think they will happen.
Joel is very supportive of us. He tells us there is no right or wrong and the most important thing about making predictions is that sometimes you just have to commit to when they will happen. This is only the beginning of our journey. There is so much more ahead of us.
Next is a look at time: how it is difficult to conceptualise. Joel explains it using many, many, many slides and examples. This culminates in us writing notes to our past and future selves who are on the ferris wheel of life. There’s a “Futorial” role play set in an elevator, some Q & A, a call to the help line and the ball game.
There is also something very surprising and big that none of us had predicted. It brings a completely new, wonderful twist to the show and helps draw the seminar to a close.
Joel Baxendale gives a wonderful wry performance. He has wit, a self-effacing charm and knows how to play with an audience. The script is full of humour, with serious undertones about global issues, personal crisis and where we will end up as human beings.
Subversion is name of the game. It may seem simple but it’s incredibly complex to take the conventional and use it to turn it on itself. Thankfully Binge Culture really know what they are doing.
This is a clever and most of all fun Fringe show. They create a relaxed an playful interactive experience. If you think that’s not your cuppa don’t be put off by this, even the most timid of participants would find it difficult not to feel comfortable and safe.
Go and experience something outside the realms of the theatrical norm. If you do go, I predict your future will be much better for the experience.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Elicits an exceptional range of emotional responses
Review by James McKinnon 21st Feb 2013
The second of Binge Culture’s three 2013 Fringe productions, For Your Future Guidance, reflects their commitment to creating daring, unpredictable performances that challenge conventional distinctions between ‘real’ and ‘staged’ performance.
FYFG fuses a universal concern, anxiety about the future, with a familiar pop culture trope, the self-help seminar, with Joel Baxendale in the role of the charismatic guru who promises to help us find inner peace. But where most pieces of this type resolve into satirical investigations of the smarmy veneer masking the hypocritical nature of most self-anointed gurus (e.g. Albert Brooks as Brad Goodman in Bart’s Inner Child), Baxendale isn’t channelling Anthony Robbins. Like everything Bunge Culture does, this performance rests on authenticity.
Equally typical of Binge Culture’s work – and I would argue, atypical of theatre in general – this performance puts enormous faith in its audience by trusting them to make the show work. One cannot rest easy in one’s seat at a Binge Culture show, and this one is no exception: you WILL leave your seat. Many times. And you WILL speak. You will forget that you usually cringe at ‘audience participation’ and find yourself helping Joel remember the lyrics to a Pink Floyd song.
You may even be compelled to share (anonymously) the darkest regrets about your past, or your current anxieties about the future. But not in the corny way that bad comedy acts and magicians drag reluctant volunteers on to the stage. In fact, the remarkable thing about this show is how it effortlessly persuades everyone present to become a single community, not a group of private spectators silently observing a group of public performers.
Binge Culture’s artists have a formidable repertory of tactics for making their audience feel at ease while simultaneously taking them out of the comfort zone of conventional theatre and into more exciting places. It’s worth asking: how do they do it?
To start with, there is no stage separating ‘us’ from ‘them’: you arrive at Thistle Hall to find an open space with a bar (hurray!). While you chat with people you know over beer and samosas, the performance space gradually takes shape around you (you may even find yourself helping to set it up without really thinking about it), but it’s never more than a few semi-circular rows of chairs.
By the time Joel focuses the audience’s attention, you will have already started to feel like you’re among friends, not one of a group of strangers, and in a safe space (since after all, you helped set it up). Also, the absence of stage lighting (which typically separates performers and spectators into lit and unlit areas) reinforces the sense that everyone present is part of a collective venture.
The participatory elements are voluntary and collective; it is clear from the outset that the purpose is never to isolate and mock an individual, so spectators quickly become comfortable with the risks Joel asks them to take. As a result, the spectators make significant contributions, and every performance will be a unique and unpredictable reflection on how we cope with our fears about The Future, from the personal (“Will I ever have a boyfriend?”) to the global (“What will happen when the sea levels rise?”).
Relying on the audience in this way has its risks: most people (even those who seem eager to volunteer) are not great at speaking in public, even if all they need to do is read words off a screen or piece of paper, and while awkwardness can be a good source of frisson, meek inaudibility is not. In addition, the manner with which Joel creates the easy-going, relaxed atmosphere can make the show seem a bit unfocused and lacking in direction at times (probably also a consequence of the first performance).
But the laid-back pace does not prevent the performance from eliciting an exceptional range of emotional responses, from joy to awkwardness to a brief, exhilarating moment of terror, and if I spent some time wondering where it was all leading to, my questions were ultimately satisfied.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer