by ICE (the Institute of Complex Entertainment) and produced by Melbourne Workers
Theatre, Tower of Light was performed at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds as part of
the 1999 Melbourne International Festival of the Arts.
of Light was an enormous collaborative project, developed over a period
of two years with a creative team of writer, director, designer, composer,
lighting designer and visual media designer. The performance
itself, in an empty cattle pavilion at the Showgrounds, involved on any given night over
100 participants: professional actors and musicians, a large-scale puppet troupe, a
Vietnamese youth theatre group, a disabled theatre group, a teenage
dance troupe, a community choir, a council brass band, Big Issue vendors plus dozens of
technical crew and volunteer helpers.
of Light was
a satire on a very large scale, at a time when not only the
government of Victoria but many other governments around the world were
becoming transfixed by
and ultimately dependent on the gambling dollar. A new casino had
just opened in Melbourne and according to the government of the day the
money flowing from it would fix our economic woes. Then-Premier, Jeff Kennett (ousted from office in a crucial by-election
the day after the show opened), had declared the new casino to be
beacon of light'.
The production, played in a broad burlesque style, explored the idea of the stockmarket (and the global capitalist system) as a casino,
where adrenalin and greed rule. A young couple are plucked from
the audience to play a sophisticated game of chance - they lose, go
into debt, are stripped of everything and eventually forced to fight
for their lives. The Tower of Light was a place of dreams, where all was speculation and nothing was 'produced'.
'gigantic… sophisticated… brilliant and satisfying. Festival shows are meant to be challenging
and extreme and Tower of Light is a rare extravagance.' - The Age
'assault theatre at its best… a powerful reflection of fascinating times
and a Melbourne Festival must-see - The Melbourne Times
Winner: 1999 Victorian Green Room Award for Innovation/New Form
'The Game': Etienne Grebot, Daniela Farinacci, Anni Davey and Thanh Vu Nguyen.
Photo: Ponch Hawkes