This is a page of support material for I Have No Enemies.
It has a number of things below:
- Key Questions:
What's it About?
Why is it Relevant?
Who's it For?
How will it be Marketed?
- Further detail about the Style, Story, Team and Evolution of the work.
- Reviews of Past Work
- Bios of the project artists
This page is only available to those with access to the direct web-link. Please do not distribute any of the content.
Please feel free to explore the rest of the Bare Witness website if you'd like further examples of previous work.
Chris, Brendan, Rachel and Ash.
what's it about?
I Have No Enemies is an original post-dramatic play about surveillance, data collection, and how we make sense of our place in the digital world. After stumbling upon a 7-minute voicemail full of sensitive information, four actors make an audience complicit in a morally-ambiguous sociological experiment that raises uncomfortable questions about our agency in a system we barely comprehend. Disentangling this new normal, where our movements, opinions, emotions, connections, and transactions are routinely tracked and used to manipulate behaviour, I Have No Enemies distorts the lines between fact and fiction in a sophisticated structure that reflects the confusion of our increasingly virtual reality.
whY is it relevant?
This show will be unlike anything else in your programming. Confronting, enlightening and absurdly entertaining, I Have No Enemies is urgent, radical, contemporary theatre that speaks to now.
The Data Availability and Transparency Bill introduced in December is just another example of Australia's complete disregard for its citizen's rights: we want to draw attention to this terrifying attitude to data privacy and personal liberties. It calls for challenging art from the kind of persistent, inconvenient artists that won’t let us look away.
We are working with a post-dramatic form that rejects conventional narrative structure, while maintaining a rigorous commitment to cohesive, legible, highly-structured work. This is not traditional theatre because traditional theatre doesn’t have the tools to tell these stories. In I Have No Enemies, audiences will encounter a creative chaos that treads the line between complexity and confusion, innovation and incoherence – which feels like exactly the language necessary to communicate these issues.
whO's it for?
Curious, critical, politically-engaged young adults who want to engage with challenging ideas and forms: university students, activists, millennials with an interest in technology, science, and current affairs. And theatregoers with an appetite for new experiences – the kind of person who prefers contemporary dance, performance art, or experimental music to Shakespeare.
how will it be marketed?
Our research has connected us with the School of Regulation and Global Governance at ANU and the Academy of Interactive Entertainment. We will seek to reach our target audience through cross-promotion with these communities, as well as through student publications, online activist groups, and tech and politics podcasts. We want to generate coverage not only in the Culture section, but the News sections too, drawing attention to these urgently relevant issues.
As a show focussed on the experience of the digital world, it presents an excellent opportunity to create an expansive, innovative and thematically integrated social media campaign to promote it.
We also want to extend the idea of the theatre as a forum to dissect these issues, and incorporate a round-table discussion with the academic experts whose research has informed the project. This could take the form of a post-show discussion, or be an event in its own right, on a weekend afternoon, offered free to anyone who has bought a ticket over the season.
We want to tour the work to progressive venues in other major cities, pitching to the likes of Flying Nun, PACT, Griffin and Belvoir 25A in Sydney, TheatreWorks, Darebin Arts and La Mama in Melbourne, and The Blue Room in Perth. Failing that, to create our own tour to the Sydney and Melbourne Fringe festivals, and develop a touring package to be able to pitch the show at regional touring events.
We want to expand our audiences and the opportunities available to us beyond Canberra, to build relationships with venues elsewhere in Australia, and artistically, to go deeper in our work by extending the life-span of projects, and the range of encounters they have with different communities.
For the full production, we want to engage a digital media artist through our contacts with the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Canberra to help enhance the technological aspects of the show. This collaboration could also open up possibilities for imaginative videography and substantial online components, as the subject matter lends itself to adaptation for digital streaming.
Style, story, Team & evolution of work
"As one of the many, random side jobs that you end up doing in order to make a little extra money - or, “rent”, as I call it - I worked for a brief spell as a contractor for a transcription service..."
I Have No Enemies is an original post-dramatic play that turns an unblinking web-cam upon the science-fiction of our everyday lives. As a society, we've already signed up to a system where every measurable aspect of our behaviour is constantly monitored and recorded; and we’re still catching up to the consequences - I mean, who actually READS the terms & conditions...? For most of us, the only defence we have against tumbling down the rabbit-hole of paranoia is the idea that we’re not important enough to merit closer scrutiny; that we haven’t done anything wrong, so we’ve nothing to hide; that we have no enemies. But who are you trusting with your data? Who's behind the screens? What if it's a group of unhinged sociopaths like US? Confronting, enlightening and absurdly entertaining, I Have No Enemies is radical contemporary theatre that decodes the uncomfortable truth of life through a lens.
Stylistically, we owe a debt of influence to the likes of The Encounter by Theatre de Complicité, Oh! What a Lovely War! by the Theatre Workshop, and Kill Climate Deniers by David Finnigan. The performers play versions of themselves, addressing the audience directly in a naturalistic, presentational style. All the information in the early part of the show is factual, drawing from personal experience and establishing a sense of trust and common ground with the audience. They are 'invited in' to the world of the show, the key questions are introduced and the theatrical language of the piece laid out before them: we are four actors, grappling with these issues around surveillance, data collection and digital identity, and are attempting to explore them, in a way that sits somewhere between a detective story and a social-science experiment. The conceit is in effect, a transparent re-enactment of a devising process, retaining the feel of chaos, frustration, in-fighting, and eureka moments that erupt from the rehearsal room.
As the show evolves, we move ever more fluidly between disparate narrative threads around the core themes - the attempt to track down, stalk, troll and ultimately kidnap an innocent man whose personal information has inadvertently landed in our hands; the ineffectiveness of 90s Hollywood movies to explain the internet; the all-encompassing obsession of a fictional video game, Tortoise Run, that plays on the popularity of games like Pokémon Go; and the meta-narrative of the contrasting emotional journeys of the four actor-characters as paranoia, conspiracy, and anarchy take hold. As the momentum increases, we hurtle into increasingly theatrical and fantastical territory, only for the apparent chaos to coalesce into an absurd, but unexpectedly coherent resolution: fleeing a siege of digital tortoises, the team break into a Data Centre in Fyshwick in order to free the Giant Tortoise, hack into the mainframe of the internet, and release everyone's data back into the world. Well, that's the plan, anyway...
The different voices and perspectives of the four artists have created an exhilaratingly original piece of theatre, born of a process of genuine collaboration. The method of working and the resulting style of performance calls for actors with versatility, curiosity, a social conscience, and the skill to translate dense research and personal experience into the language of theatre. Apart from their capabilities as accomplished performers, each of the artists are creators in their own right: Rachel as a writer, director & designer through her company, Ribix Productions; Brendan as an award-winning producer & director of short films; and Ash as a comedian and singer-songwriter. As the lead artist, I bring my experience as an independent theatre-maker through my company, Bare Witness, and as a member of Paris-based international ensemble Breadknives. My training as an actor at The Samuel Beckett Centre, and particularly as a theatre-maker at Ecole Jacques Lecoq, has forged an ethos in my work of the actor-as-creator, which is at the heart of this project.
I Have No Enemies began as a presentation as part of the Pitch In event for Autumn Revel at Ainslie+Gorman Arts Centres in May 2018. The initial draft of the play was workshopped in a 2-week development at Belco Arts in March 2021, culminating in an 80-minute work-in-progress showing for invited guests. As part of our research, we have consulted with Jenna Imad Harb, a PhD scholar at the School of Regulation and Global Governance, ANU, whose areas of research include surveillance, science and technology studies and social justice. Jenna has connected us with several other experts in the field whose input has informed the further development of the work, which continues as part of our weekly ensemble training/devising at Belco Arts. Dramaturgy for the project is supported by ensemble-member and experienced Canberra-based director, Rochelle Whyte.
For the full production, we hope to partner with a digital media artist who can help enhance the technological aspects of the show. This collaboration could also open up possibilities for imaginative videography and substantial online components, as the subject matter lends itself to adaptation for digital streaming.