50Dundas, 50 Dundas Street, Dunedin

27/03/2019 - 30/03/2019

Dunedin Fringe 2019

Production Details

Look at this fellow. How come the exact same face looks both miserable and cheerful simultaneously?  

The Unfolding of Benjamin’s Misery is a one-person tragicomedy piece that examines the possibility of modern everyday dissidents in global capitalism through exploring the vulnerability of foreign labourers. Carefully interweaving techniques of Clown/Dark Clown, spoken word poetry, and physical theatre, Benjamin’s Misery offers a super theatrical experience that is hilarious, poignant and lyrical.

Benjamin is an undocumented migrant, working as an usher for an event venue in Dunedin. To be frank, he is exploited. Like, seriously. He gets less than the minimum wage. Even so, he is happy because he still earns more than he would back in his homeland. And, of course, his Boss couldn’t be happier. They need each other and are better off together. Who cares about economic injustice and domination when the purpose of life has become no more than earning money?

Well, Bard does. He is a world-roaming counterpart of Benjamin, just as poor. Nonetheless, he does not succumb to the great force of economic rationality. He may have only 50 cents in his wallet, but he has 500 poems that he wrote in his notebooks. He values the long-lost virtues like truth, happiness and justice over money, wage labour and consumption.

Now, when Bard comes for performance/workshop at the Fringe venue Benjamin works, the encounter between the two inevitably starts unfolding Benjamin’s misery. If every tragedy is an unfinished comedy and every comedy an unbegun tragedy, where is Benjamin’s life taking him now?

Bio: Hideto Akasu is an emerging interdisciplinary artist whose artwork reflects his unique perspective he has developed through the experience of living as the cultural other in different parts of the world. As a performing artist, he is the winner of Liverpool Poetry Slam Championship 2018. As a visual artist, his artworks are featured in Wotisart magazine (October, November, December 2018).

Warning: Partial nudity

50Dundas, 50 Dundas Street, Dunedin
WED 27 – SAT 30 March
Secured Entry Advance Ticket (SEAT) : $3.00
SEAT gives an audience member the security of having a reserved seat for $3 and they can then make their koha or donation at the venue before or after the show.
*Fees may apply

Theatre , Spoken word , Comedy , Clown ,

50 mins

Breaking chains with confidence

Review by Hannah Molloy 28th Mar 2019

The Unfolding of Benjamin’s Misery is a tragicomedy performed by Hideto Akasu, who describes himself as “an emerging interdisciplinary artist whose artwork reflects his unique perspective he has developed through the experience of living as the cultural other in different parts of the world”. 

Akasu plays two characters, Benjamin and the Bard, effectively ego and id. Benjamin is an immigrant worker who is working for an exploitative boss and finds himself alone, with an artist due to arrive at any moment. Unfortunately, all the other staff are on strike so Benjamin has to entertain the audience until the Bard arrives.

The Bard is a slick, confident poet who is offering a workshop for the audience (yes, this actually happens much to our surprise and early discomfort). His poetry is lovely and soul-baring, flirting with the edges of provocation.

Although caught off guard to begin with, the audience was willing to engage with Akasu’s workshop and we found ourselves drawn together, with lots of giggling and panicked pauses, until we feel like a community.

Through the course of the performance, the characters demonstrate that each has the other’s fears and lack of confidence tucked away underneath, as well as the strengths that they aren’t sure about. It’s a story of finding that confidence and breaking the chains of oppression and expectation, and the humdrum of life. 


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