Globalisation, communication, digitalisation, standardisation, disorientation … disintegration.
Electronic City by Falk Richter, allegedly one of the most important German playwrights of his generation, is a burgeoning, all encompassing, uber techno metropolis where flexibility and resilience is paramount for success and survival. However, despite all the technology we have at our disposal that is supposed to make the world a smaller place – it in fact isolates us.
It tells the story of Tom and Joy, a neo-romantic love story from the start of the 21st century. Tom is a resilient and extremely flexible consultant whose only foothold is the porno channel in his hotel room. Tonight he is wandering around the corridors of a hotel complex. He’s lost his orientation and no longer knows where he is: Berlin, London, New York, Hongkong, Singapore. He thinks of Joy … Joy is a stand-in on the scanner-till of Prêt-à-manger International, someone who didn’t finish her studies, a flexible and adaptable colleague. Her dream is George Clooney. Tonight around two she is standing at her little till at the airport, paralysed with panic. Twenty businessmen want to pay for their sandwiches, but the scanner has broken down, the till is on strike, the system collapses. She thinks of Tom … They fell in love while fighting over the last place on a flight home to Berlin. They were arrested and locked up together; the start of a great love … Now her life is being filmed in a real-time docu-soap.
Wayne Pearn, Hoy Polloy artistic director and Electronic City director, explains that for
every connection we make there is a disconnect …" Openness is a cocoon – we lose our senses. In Electronic City the corporates, in the relentless quest for profit, are reshaping the planet into a balance sheet and woe betide anyone who has missed a place on the global conveyor belt – you’re disposable.” .
Daniel Brunet, Electronic City translator, explains, “If we are to believe Shakespeare, one of theatre’s primary functions is ‘… to hold a mirror up to nature…’, providing artists and audience alike the opportunity to reflect on the world around them or, as Falk Richter so succinctly puts it in the subtitle of Electronic City, “unsere Art zu leben’ (‘our way of living’).”
“Indeed, as the world continues to move towards ever-more pervasive digitisation and globalisation, humanity’s current ‘way of living’ seems to differentiate itself from what has come before in a shocking manner.”
“The boundaries of the private and public spheres are dissolving, the Internet has created an information superhighway free from the constraints of geography and a new generation, the so-called ‘digital natives’, are coming of age as the very first members of the human race to deem the dizzying amount of technological innovations to be as normal, as natural as the air they breathe.”
“With Electronic City, Richter throws all of this into question: Is humanity the master or the servant of technology? What is the human cost of round-the-clock accessibility? Can the digital realm, with its inherent malleability, be trusted as instinctually as the analog? These are questions well worth asking,” Brunet concluded.
Hoy Polloy present, as part of Berlin Dayz by the Goethe-Institut Australien, Falk Richter’s Electronic City translated by Daniel Brunet and directed by Wayne Pearn at MIPAC – Brunswick, November 2010.