Following on from the ideas projected through the 2015 production Nufonia Must Fall, 1927 returns to the Adelaide Festival of Arts this year with a continued exploration of the relationship between man and machine with Golem. Where Nufonia detailed a love story, Golem takes the audience into darker, nightmarish territory in highlighting the dangerous dependency humans share with the machine and technology’s arresting control on the modern world.
The production’s co-creator Paul Barritt tells the Arts team more about the production ahead of its festival premiere this March!
1927 has been around for just over a decade now. Tell us a little bit about the history of 1927, how the company came about, and what your first production was about.
1927 was set up by myself and Suzanne Andrade. We specialise in combining animation with theatrical performance. I am an animator and Suzanne is a theatre director, so from the outset we always used animations and live performance together. Our first show was called Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and was a set of satirical vignettes, performed by Esme Appleton, with live piano score from Lillian Henley the other two members, with Suzanne also performing and me pressing the necessary buttons to make the animations work. It was a great success and was our seminal work, everything we have since made has been a development of the style we arrived at when we made that show.
How did you come up with the idea of Golem? What is it all about?
The idea for Golem came originally from reading the Meyrink novel and also from watching the silent movie, Der Golem. Our interest in the myth developed form there. Once we started to research it, we soon realised that it was a good metaphor for man and his technology.
What’s your favourite scene and why?
My favourite scene is probably the ‘Go Courting’ scene. Its the closest we’ve ever got to a Pop Art Chas and Dave number about internet dating (something I’m sure most artists strive towards at some point in their career).
Golem is delightfully funny and draws a lot of laughs from the audience. But beneath the surface, there lies a somewhat more sombre social commentary on humans and technology. Tell us more about that?
The show is about technology. Golem himself is the technology. However, Golem falls into the hands of a nameless corporation and soon begins to control the main character, Robert, and in fact the whole world. The story then is not about technology itself being an inherently negative thing but rather the way technology is utilised to manipulate the populous. Through cheap marketing, technology is used to zombify people into becoming mindless, shallow, vain, idiot-consumers.
Do you think there is an unhealthy relationship between man and machine?
Only if you let it become unhealthy. Right now, due to an unregulated, free marketeering economy that has allowed big business to gain a powerful grip relationship between man and machine, it is unhealthy to the point of it being poisonous. It doesn’t have to be that way though, the world can be changed if we so want it to be. I have no doubt that technology could play a major role in that change.
This year’s Adelaide Festival of the Arts is showcasing a plethora of great entertainment and talent. How does it feel to be a part of such a festival?
Golem has been performed in a few different cities around the world. What has been the most memorable location to perform at?
I don’t actually tour with it myself, but I do sometimes join the touring company – over the last year of the places I’ve been, Moscow was amazing (as always). The people were great!
Where is Golem off to next after Australia?
Italy and the US!
Golem premieres at the Dunstan Playhouse at Adelaide’s Festival Centre on March 8th, running through until March 13th. Grab your tickets and more information through here!