Is happiness something you can buy?
I got interested in the one-to-one conversation format back in 2011. I created a sketch of a piece in a choreographic lab in Singapore (facilitated by Joavien Ng and Jochen Roller), where audience members could volunteer to get to know a performer one-on-one. It involved a lot of sitting antics and jelly… I think I called it “Nice to eat you”.
But I knew that i was searching for the right content. What would be presented in a one to one format? Then one day I stumbled into a time-share sales racket in a conference room on Orchard Road (the gleaming shopping mecca back home). Unsuspecting folks were invited into a short presentation, which turned out to be one-on-one conversations with an intent sales representative that bombarded me with questions that nobody could say no to. A sale was a victory for the buyer!
The performativity of it grabbed me right away. What was the one thing that nobody would say no to? That everyone would want to experience vicariously? The Sunshine Empire was born.
Incidentally, the title came from the rise and fall of an actual enterprise in Singapore, which was discredited for a huge Ponzi scheme in 2008/2009. Read about the original Sunshine Empire.
The amazing cast for this production was assembled in February 2015. This is a non-profit production, powered by love and laughter, generous rehearsal space and costuming…and not much else. We hope to continue this performance in various venues in London through the summer. To support us or host our performance, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
On probably really the last, last of 15 performances of Sunshine Empire today:
I’m so grateful for you wonderful collaborators. I have watched the delight, puzzlement, surprise and challenge that you brought to our audiences these last two months. While we made part fiction, it was also really personal and genuine and powerful in that way. Often I find myself standing back while I ring the timings, and just truly enjoying all of you perform. The more I see, the better it gets. I’m really glad and proud of what we’ve made together.
Also, thank you for all the venues, and the old and new friends who have supported us, making time to come to our shows, and supporting us with feedback along the way. You know who you are!
-Sze, 01 August 2015, London