Fight Night is immersive Toronto theatre exploring how people vote in time for the US election
Fight Night, the fist show in the 2016/17 Off-Mirvish series, opened at the Panasonic Theatre on Friday evening. Developed and presented by Belgium’s Ontroerend Goed Theatre Company, the show examines how we choose who we vote for or, more accurately, the show lets the audience examine how they choose who they vote for. Exquisite timing, given this coming Tuesday’s US election.
As we entered the theatre we were given small remote voting fobs on a lanyard. We hung them around our necks and instantly become private voting machines. It made for some interesting eavesdropping. The people around us were pressing buttons, discussing whether they should press buttons, advancing theories on the technology, and I think the man behind me was trying to take the fob apart.
The evening started with Angelo Tijssens, the Referee, getting us to use the fobs to answer questions that established the audience demographics. On Friday women were in the majority, but just barely. There were more married people than there were singles or people in a relationship, more people over 65 than any other age group, and more people with high incomes. I’d love to know that about the audience of every play I see.
The stage is set up like a boxing ring without the ropes. There’s a large silver microphone hanging down on a wire at the front of the stage and there are two screens above the ring where the questions and results are displayed.
The candidates – actors Aaron Gordon, Abdel Daoudi, Aurélie Lannoy, Charlotte De Bruyne and Michai Geyzen – enter the ring wearing hooded robes, just like boxers.
And then we start voting. The referee asks a question or gives us some information and we have a number of choices. We push our buttons and then see the results on the screens.
There are five rounds. Each round consists of a series of votes. At the end of each round a candidate is eliminated.
Although the candidates do make short speeches and answer questions they don’t really present a political platform. In one of the rounds we voted for things we liked or didn’t like but we didn’t know which candidate represented those things until after we voted.
It was fascinating. It made me think that it would be a better way to run elections. Vote for ideas without seeing the candidates.
Fight Night is theatre in that there are actors on a stage and an audience in seats. There’s a director, Alexander Devriendt. There’s a text by Alexander Devriendt, Angelo Tussens, and The Cast. But it only exists with an audience. You can’t pick up a script and read it because it’s so different every time it’s performed.
I think it’s safe to say that all of us in the audience felt that we were an integral part of the performance. I know I did. And I have to say that audience participation is a lot more fun when you don’t have to go up on stage.
- Fight Night is playing until November 20, 2016 at the Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge Street)
- Shows run Tuesday – Saturday at 8:00 PM, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 PM, Added matinee, Thurs. Nov. 10 at 2:00 PM, there is no show on Tues. Nov. 8
- Ticket prices range from $39 to $92
- Tickets are available online, by phone at 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333, and at the box office
Photo provided by Mirvish