We’ve become increasingly accustomed to words like ‘apocalypse’ being thrown around freely in the guise of dark humour, but jokes aside, the lack of personal control over humanity’s future can feel overwhelming.
A group of eight artists have found an unorthodox way of making sense of it all – by embracing the absurd, random nature of existence through experiential theatre. If those last two words generally send you running in the opposite direction; hear them out.
“Discordia's message is that there is no plan, order is manufactured and that we are all happy accidents or sad clusterfucks and mostly, both,” says contributing artist Hannah Fox, who recently worked on the extraordinary Dark Mofo performance Siren Song.
The collective has been working on projects together in various forms for a few years, but this is their first staged show together. “There is a good amount of trust and shorthand there, but it's the first time any of us have made a theatre show from scratch,” says Fox.
If the collective’s mesmerising (and very funny) Instagram account is anything to go by, there will be plenty of surprises planned for attendees. A few things audiences can expect are prawn-worship, sumptuous delicacies, sing-a-longs and a giant inflatable vagina.
The production will see the depths of the Arts Centre transformed into the realm of the Discordiants, a parody cult in the vein of the Church of the Sub-Genius, described as an “insular colony of goddess-worshipping utopians”. Through an experiential, interactive performance work narrated by the iconic news presenter Lee Lin Chin, the Discordiants will attempt to recruit others to their way of life.
“The Arts Centre is such an unnatural, hyper-stylised environment,” says Fox. “We really went with that and wanted to expose some of its weirder back of house areas and subterranean zones.”
Fox explains the idea is for the audience to move through the various spaces, driven by sound and light, and to “allow for introverts and extroverts to find their place within it all.”
Discordianism was invented as a parody religion in the 1960s text, Principia Discordia by Greg Hill and Kerry Wendell Thornley. The artists involved in this new iteration initially treated it as a parody, too. But the more they worked on the piece, the more the ideas resonated with them.
“The fundamental belief of Discordianism is that the most consistent force in the universe is discord and chaos,” Fox says. “This was something that jumped out to us as a hopeful idea in the current context of feeling like things are spiraling out of control.”
Discordia is running from September 27 to October 1 at Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne. Tickets available at artscentremelbourne.com.au.