Calling on the Audience

An interview with Grant Moxom, Felicity Nicol and Melissa Lee Speyer
By Alex Morris @Nemiwai

Grant Moxom doesn’t believe the government is spying on us. He thinks we’re spying on ourselves by supplying businesses with data and statistics.
“The businesses and companies who collect our information are not our friend,” Grant said.
The 25-year-old technical director and devisor has a background in IT, psychology and performance studies. Together he, Felicity Nicol and Melissa Lee Speyer make up Epiphany Now. Performance director Felicity is 29 and she and Grant went to uni together. Melissa is a writer and dramaturg in her 30s and met Felicity through NIDA.
 The threesome are Sydney-based, and they will be performing Project 84 for the first time at Crack Theatre Festival, representing NSW under the Setting the Stages initiative.
They don’t want to give away exactly what the audience can expect during their performance, but they will say it involves personal details and the audience’s mobile phones. During their unrehearsed ensemble, they want to draw attention to the public’s desire to follow instructions and be controlled.
“I started tinkering with an idea of working with Orwell’s 1984 several years ago, while I was studying directing. I started to realise the majority of pieces I was working with dealt with surveillance and power, and it kept reminding me of 1984.” Felicity said. “I didn’t know what to do with it, I tried to give the project legs and it would start and finish very quickly.”

L-R: Felicity Nicol, Grant Moxom, Melissa Lee Speyer
L-R: Felicity Nicol, Grant Moxom, Melissa Lee Speyer

Felicity loved what Grant was doing with theatre and technology and the two began working together and quickly realised they needed a writer. Felicity and Grant said Mel was the perfect pick to write and work with them, as she not only writes but also is a privacy, security and communications lawyer.
Their 45-minute-long show extrapolates from the worrying things they’ve seen involving people readily sharing information, and Crack is the first place it will be performed. The performance will use a reworked-call-system, which will allow the audience to go on a synchronized, instructional journey.
1984 is about government manipulating people, telling them not to step out of line. In the world 2084, privacy is a concept being eroded, but instead of it being done by an oppressive course, it’s the rest of society on each other and organisations like Google and Apple gathering information,” Melissa said. “Orwell was more concerned with communism, and we’re more concerned with capitalism.”
“Orwell was afraid of a world where the government would control people,” Grant said. “We are projecting a world where we make constant decisions to sacrifice our freedoms for convenience.”
Though they are working with some heavy themes, they want to make known they aren’t trying to be intellectual and the play involves an orgy scene.
“There’s constantly role play or silliness going on,” Felicity said.
“It’s really chilled, relaxed and playful,” Grant adds.
Felicity hopes that after their performance, the audience feels encouraged to update their privacy settings on Facebook.
“We are devaluing our information, just because Google can tell you when your bus comes,” she said.

This story was originally written for Crack Theatre Festival.