Maverick & Ferris' 8 Steps to Successp!
Self- help books, subscriptions to ‘intentional living’ websites and motivational seminars are all part of a flourishing industry in modern society, a billion dollar industry. Picking up a book at a local store or subscribing to a free newsletter I can understand, but what does it take for someone to go to an all day workshop? And more importantly, what do we think of these people and the people who run theses seminars? Callum Lofts and Shane Addison have decided to explore this question further in their up coming production Maverick & Ferris’ 8 Steps to Successp! In a recent interview with the company Lofts described the show as a ‘satirical farce aimed at life coaches’. The concept came to him during his own journey of self-development and the experiences of a friend who attended one such seminar and was never quite the same again.
The idea of self- help formulas date way back into at least the last century but I don’t think they have ever been as prominent as they are now. Many of us are pretty happy to buy a pocket book on happiness, wealth, love, power living, zero resistance, or whatever the latest phase is. They don’t cost much, and we can chose to read it, feel elated, follow the steps for a week and then forget all about until we buy the next one. But why take that extra big next step of actually attending a seminar like Maverick & Ferris’ 8 Steps to Successp!? Lofts and Addison needed to be able to answer this question before they really began to develop their piece. Lofts said they both really wanted to “get underneath of what really motivates our ambitions” as surely this is the answer to why these seminars are so popular and profitable. What is it about our current society that is causing a demand for these motivational seminars, what desire it that we are looking to fulfill that hasn’t cried out so loudly in society ever before? Exploring the answer to this question opened up a minefield of possibilities on which to build this show.
It is easy to stereotype the kind of person that would attend a self-help seminar, and in fact it could even be quite an interesting group of people to poke fun at. But when working on a subject such as this from a comedy standpoint falling into the trap of purely poking fun at others must be avoided. Lofts explained to me how their show is so much more than this. “Sometimes you run the risk with comedy shows of coming off as self indulgent and missing the relationship with the audience. Our show isn’t about poking fun at people but reflecting on all of us as individuals.” In fact this show focuses more on the seminar leaders and what motivates them to do what they do and how successful they actually really are.
Addison and Lofts first met in 2009 while they were studying Theatre and Media Communications at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst. Since graduating in 2011 both of them have been involved in various productions in Sydney, including Short and Sweet Sydney 2013. Over the years they spent together in University they were continuously “coming up with hilarious concepts…” in between either performing in shows or crewing them This, Lofts informed me is the first time they “are following through and actually making a show together.” And what an interesting subject matter to do so with.
Of course there must be some challenges when both the performers are also the writers of the show. Lofts explained that ‘the challenge comes when the lines blur’ and I wondered how these young performers have insured this hasn’t happened. ‘Sometimes you have to remove yourself and really ask important questions to keep yourself rooted in the action and on task and not stray away on some funny in joke.’ Well if awareness is the key, then I don’t think they have anything to worry about.
Thinking what we are all thinking; are you prepared to bring yourself to his show? Lofts warned me that the audience should be nervous. I’m not sure what he was implying when saying that but he did say "nervous in a good way.”
In fact this is a show that promises to “slap people out f their complacency and have them laughing non stop.” That sounds like a decent promise to me. This theatre company seems to have its head well screwed on and this show is definitely worth a look, even if you are only going to see what these self-help seminars are all about!
Maverick & Ferris' 8 Steps to Successp! opens in The Works on September 17th at 7.30pm and runs until Saturday 21st.
For further details see: http://2013.sydneyfringe.com/event/comedy/maverick-ferris-8-steps-successp