Step into an immersive theatre experience with 'The Farce Awakens' at Anywhere Theatre Festival.
Originally created at Woodford Folk Festival, 'The Farce Awakens' is a delicious cocktail filled with parody, pop culture and puzzle rooms.
The Game World will come to life in the Museum of Brisbane. Director Gianni Tills and Executive Producer Tim Monley tell us more.
Where does the idea behind 'The Farce Awakens' come from?
G: Folly Games have been doing a large immersive game at Woodford Folk Festival for six years now, and I guess you could say this is a spinoff of that. At the festival there are two-dozen characters on elaborate sets scattered throughout every afternoon, giving the opportunity for audiences to do some ridiculous things and have fun during their down time. 'The Farce Awakens' is essentially importing these characters and some of these stories to a new location, bringing with it an immersive world that audiences get thrown right into the midst of. We've always been about being silly and bringing some fun to the everyday, and this show is a unique opportunity for people to step out of the everyday.
T: The original idea comes from the game at Woodford Folk Festival, where the Game World has grown over seven years. We have also been inspired by the space of Museum of Brisbane as the whole performance is like an exhibition come to life. We are integrating their landmark exhibition 100% Brisbane into the performance as we take over the entire museum for the evening.
It's a play on words of 'The Force Awakens'… Does that mean it's an appreciation of 'Star Wars' or more of a parody?
G: We love puns. A lot of our content is either generated or hangs on puns, both spectacular and terrible. The show isn't a direct connection to 'Star Wars' alone, but at its core parodies many aspects of pop culture. Expect many references and twists of all sorts. Our adventures are often puns on popular titles (e.g. 'The Princess Bribe', 'A New Trope', 'I Know What You Did Last Woodford Folk Festival'), and so we've kept form for this. A lot of our world is farcical in nature and in the story of the show, the Farce, like its more well-known equivalent, is an invisible energy that keeps things fun and lighthearted. T: We love puns and the performance includes parody of many sci-fi and fantasy titles. 'The Farce Awakens' was our favourite for this production. May the farce be with you!
Why is this show a good fit for Anywhere Theatre Festival?
G: We've always had a fundamental interest in non-conventional theatre, and establishing grounds for spectacle and dramatic interactions that don't require a stage. Anywhere Theatre Festival allows us to take over a space and claim it as our world. Museum of Brisbane has been kind enough to host us for this, and the dynamic space with multiple rooms really allows us to create that world.
T: 'The Farce Awakens' is highly immersive, it allows the audience to interact with the characters and explore the environment. Sometimes the joy of the theatre can be lost when it is in a stuffy black box or it is all too serious. In 'The Farce Awakens', audiences will discover a world full of absurd characters, beautiful costumes and playfulness. We feel this is a great fit for Anywhere Theatre Festival and Museum of Brisbane, especially because audience engagement is at the heart of the Museum.
What appeals to you about the idea of Anywhere?
G: There are many great things about it – supporting local artists, inspiring more audiences that may not usually go to much theatre and just unique performances in general. I love tearing down the idea that the performing arts need to be on a stage in a theatre somewhere. If so much theatre holds up a mirror to everyday life, why not have it a part of everyday life?
T: I love the idea that a cultural festival can transform the imaginative landscape of a city. My background is in community arts, street and free theatre, and I have a long history of not doing art on a stage. My work aims to surprise, delight, and interrupt the ordinary. Anywhere Theatre Festival makes art possible anywhere and therefore a more exciting world to live in.
Gianni… How has it been to direct this show?
Following on from that, can you compare/relate this show to anything else you've been involved in? As a first time director, creating this show has been... Extraordinary to say the least. Most theatre performances will have a show that runs linearly, with this scene with these characters followed by this scene with these characters and so on until curtains. 'The Farce Awakens' has over a dozen characters inhabiting the space for the entire show, each with their own arc they are fulfilling. There is no down time for a character in this performance. Imagine it's like 'Game of Thrones' but everything is actually happening simultaneously, not just in the order they cut it. Then add to that the fact that the audience plays a role too. The audience are part of this world, intermingled with the characters. Their actions (or inaction) at certain points alters the storylines of these characters, resulting in major changes in the plot. I think at this stage there are over 50 different combinations of endings, and that's just the ones I can think of.
Tim… As the Executive Producer what does your role entail? What have been the challenges in that role?
I created The Game for Woodford Folk Festival, and from the start was very deeply involved in writing and directing. As Executive Producer, I am taking a step back to mentor a group of very talented and creative young people. I love guiding them to create an incredible performance, and the development of their own careers.
What can audiences expect from 'The Farce Awakens'?
G: Something entirely new. To step into a fleshed out world with colourful characters and help decide their fate. There will be chaos, there will be silliness, but most of all there will be fun!
'The Farce Awakens' plays Museum of Brisbane 12-20 May.