By Lyn Zelen
Everyone is Famous in this internet simulacrum for all the right and wrong reasons.
The unique coming-of-age, comedic trilogy created by Katrina Cornwell, Morgan Rose and the co-creating cast of Riot Stage, is a larger-than-life, politically charged internet exposé.
The incredibly accomplished cast: Bonnie Brown, Sunny Chiron, Mila Lawson, Anna Louey, Amelia Newman, Jack Palit, Liam Trumble, Lillah Summers Dixon and Alex Veljanovski; are a mix of teenage and millennials with wicked one-liners and tales of self-realisation leading to a utopian future.
The floorless monologues are performed under the insightful direction of Katrina Cornwell and assistant director Belle Hansen and juxtaposed with innovative Riot Stage team’s projections on six enormous “smart phone” backdrop screens, live hand-held “reality-TV” shooting footage of the “utopian world”, all on a minimalist, contemporary set, enhanced by trance tones and Hype House tunes.
Two millennials’ place two wooden, one-metred-squared, flat platform boxes on the stage floor facing the audience. For non-millennials, the metaphorical boxes are reminiscent of wooden or plastic milk crates used as political “soap-box” platforms. Now in 2021, we “the audience” watch online, do we follow or give a thumbs up?
One is placed on the left-hand-side labeled “Who I Am”, one on the right-hand-side labeled “Who You Think I Am” and a drawn sheer black curtain behind them conceals the translucent veil between reality and virtual reality.
One-by-one teenagers and millennials take turns stepping up onto the left platform and then the right platform, giving funny, wicked one-liners or heartbreaking interpretations of themselves.
Amelia is first: they are a positive millennial with a curly, mullet hairstyle complementary gender bending t-shirt and multi-colored lycra leggings, and ankle lace up gym boots with flashing coloured-lights. Amelia’s honest self-reflections become the impetus of change in this multi-faceted tale.
We meet five other characters: a confident and determined 16-year-old high school girl, a tall, thin, depressed millennial female Security Guard who feels pre-judged by her appearance, a female millennial “people pleaser” who considers herself a “fast sleeper”, a stone-faced teenage guy who’s consumed by online Wrestling Heroes, a Uni-student Gamer who embodies his online Avatar in Dungeons and Dragons and ignores his mounting Centrelink forms; and finally a socially anxious, female millennial, cooking Vlogger with a wicked sense of humour.
Their comical and miserable admissions continue on the “Who You Think I Am” platform and onto a third platform produced labeled “Who You Want Me To Be”.
The creators suggest internet platforms influence our “Who I Am” creative consciousness, whilst “Who You Think I Am” platform induces subconscious automated technologically responses. Is the “Who You Want Me To Be” platform of our own volition?
The sheer black curtain is drawn back to reveal six micro-sets of the characters environments—their “real-time” lives interfacing with their online personas.
On a computer simulated, multi-colored pixelated floor, we first see from left to right the Uni-student in his gaming chair staring at his laptop, Mila the teenager in her messy bedroom, the people-pleaser vlogger in front of a mirror with a large eye-shadow palette, the cooking vlogger standing behind a kitchen bench, the security guard vlogging whilst sitting on a the toilet seat in a cubicle, the teenager wrestling fan sits on a bean bag–eyes glued to a video on his laptop—and Amelia at a vintage clothing store trying on clothes.
One-by-one, they use their mobile phones to create selfies, texts and vlogs, which are projected simultaneously on the background screens—an entertaining virtual experience for the audience “online observers”.
The people-pleaser make-up vlogger rants on a phone call to her controlling parents, and we meet the teenage wrestling fan’s younger sister who quizzes his obsession with fake wrestling and his goals in life.
Mila is “offline” tidying her room before her teenage classmate joins her to do homework. He arrives with energy drinks and posts his fake response of the disgusting taste to socials. A concerned Mila challenges his motives for being a wealthy online “influencer” and explains her motives for refusing to join social media.
It becomes apparent their online personas appear to be quick fixes for anxiety, loneliness, image and empowerment. Amelia stops trying on clothes to suit (they/them) true-self, quits virtual reality and urges the others to “come find me” and goes offline to a cosmic higher dimension.
The cast then man the camera for a close up hand-held “Blair Witch Project” style shooting of their experiences in the utopian world, which is actually quite amusing and effective.
Do they “find themselves” and discover their full potential in utopia or return to the fake reality and conformity?
Everyone Is Famous is an eye-opening, mesmerising mirror platform, “checks all the boxes” in only seventy-minutes and suggests turning off screens and opening hearts.
Images: Darren Gill