Something is wrong.

In the last few months, a new disease has emerged that is transmitted not by water, by air, by contact – but by speech. Language. Via text messaging and email, telephone or video.

This disease attacks thought itself, undermining our ability to think critically and resist other people’s influence. This is an epidemic of harmful ideas and broken logic. And it’s spreading. Whole communities of people, highly contagious, wandering about, unable to talk, unable to take care of themselves, looking for things to believe in.

In a few short months, the epidemic has hit a critical mass and gone global. The population of entire countries have been infected and gone under, and all international communications have collapsed entirely. In Australia, the last remaining survivors have been quarantined in bunkers, isolated from any potentially infected communications from the world outside.

Now, as food and medical supplies are running short, a group of scientists from a medical research laboratory are about to embark on a last-ditch attempt to release a cure. Boho invites you join us as we open channels to the last functioning research centre in Australia for a lecture that will turn the tide of this epidemic.

Don’t believe everything you hear.

Boho’s new show Word Play is performed on-screen from across the city. The audience are situated in the CSIRO Discovery Centre lecture theatre, while the performers are live-streamed from a laboratory across the city using a high-speed video broadband connection.

Using text messages and a purpose-built phone app, the audience are able to interact directly with the performance, communicating with the performers and controlling them through a series of live computer game sequences.

Word Play is a performance lecture exploring concepts from epidemiology, a live cinema experience and a hands-on video game in the survival horror genre.

Bring your phone.

Since forming in 2006, Boho’s Michael Bailey, Jack Lloyd and David Finnigan have presented interactive cross-artform performances to festivals, theatres, science conferences and schools including the Brisbane Under The Radar Festival, the Asia-Pacific Complex Systems Conference, the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the Manning Clark House Centre for Scholarly & Cultural Research, TEDxCanberra, CSIRO’s Lecture series and the Street Theatre’s Independent Season.

Boho’s recent works include True Logic of the Future (2010), a science fiction ‘parable for the Anthropocene’ exploring the challenges facing Australia in the 21st century from the forces of climate and global change, and Food for the Great Hungers (2009), an interactive re-imagining of Australian history since 1901.

Word Play combines Boho’s unique style of interactive theatre with the world of film. For this project, Boho have welcomed on board director Marisa Martin, a film-maker and head of the Lights! Canberra! Action! film festival. Marisa says of the play, ‘ a filmmaker, the use of cameras in the production really appeals to me and throwing in interactivity makes for an exciting storytelling environment I’ve not been able to explore before. It should make for a highly engaging experience for the audience.’

Word Play features performers Raoul Craemer, Cathy Petocz and Euan Bowen.

Created in residence at the CSIRO, Boho’s new work looks at the behaviour of epidemics, focusing on an ominous trend in medical research over recent decades.

As a result of widespread use of antibiotics, almost every type of harmful bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to treatment. Antibiotics that were once reserved as drugs of last resort are now routinely deployed, and the microbes are now overcoming even these final defences.

Old scourges such as Tuberculosis are returning, completely immune to remedy. Meanwhile, new and appallingly lethal diseases such as Hendra, SARS and Ebola are increasingly brought into contact with people through evolving networks of human behaviour – urbanisation, agriculture and travel. The results are impossible to predict.

Boho’s research into this area included a visit to the Australian Animal Health Laboratories near Geelong, Victoria, where we were lucky enough to be taken to Biosecurity Level 3, and visit the room where the samples of Ebola, Hendra, Nipah and SARS were kept. Read more here.

Where: CSIRO Discovery Centre, Clunies Ross street, Acton

When: 7:30pm Wednesday – Saturday 15-18 May, 22-25 May, 29 May-1 June

Tickets: $20 – buy tickets here.

Images by Rohan Thomson.

This is a Centenary of Canberra project, proudly supported by the ACT Government & CSIRO.

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