Y? – Ranae Shadler and Collaborators


Y? – Melbourne Fringe REVIEW

Tuesday 30th October, 2014

There were six tribes set up as six competing tables in a trivia night like set up. Each tribe represented a social stereotype: Feminists, Bogans, Queers, Professionals, Hipsters, and Internationals. The deviser Renae Shadler, leads the evening playing hostess and political advisor to the competition and participatory performance piece.


Every audience member contributes to their team through various games, competitions and conversations. Using a hybrid of digital media and old-school ontology we participated in: pen on paper word search, YouTube montage, iPhone snap chat, brainstorming and audience participation. Each activity helped to unravel the crux and core of this performance piece, questioning the logic behind identity politics and social stereotypes, and the language and mediums we use to reinforce and perpetuate them.


What I found particularly impressionable was reflecting on the way that these new, Gen Y mediums of communication are so integrated in our daily lives. Throughout the performance we were asked to understand and use the language and interface of YouTube, Facebook, Instragram and Twitter. Platforms and jargon which five years ago would have been confusing and incomprehensible were totally understood, by everybody. It really showed how Gen Y and their social platforms are genuinely a part of a very real cultural and communication shift.


Layered on top of these underlying communication and social strategies was the enigma of the piece, which was about discussing and breaking down stereotypes.

While the games were aimed at exploring and laying bare how these social stereotypes and prejudices are generated and perpetuated by our language and representation through these social platforms (YouTube, Facebook, etc). The piece also left a sense of hope for how these mediums could potentially be used as a way to break down and break through those stereotypes, as means of inclusiveness, of balance, and equality.


I really enjoyed the value and foundations of Shadler’s Y? The conversation about social mediums and stereotypes was important, relevant, and completely applicable. The presentation was fun – the giant beach balls at the end provided one of those rare opportunities to just, simply, play. More detail to technical elements would have highlighted further the implicit nature of this technology in our lives. There was lacking a crispness in the audio and visual, but this is easily forgiven in a Fringe context.


Some of the performers, the leaders of the tribes, were more confident in their stereotyped identities than others. Some seemed to, from the outset, belong to several identity groups. A more stylised, deliberate caricature of these ‘leaders’ at the beginning would have given more impact as they begin to unravel into individuals as the show progresses, when we meet them, work with them, and begin to hear their stories. For me, it was this element – hearing the performers stories – which bought real power to the piece and which separated it from a theatricalised trivia night into a piece of impressive performance art.


Tuesday 30th September – Saturday 4th October 2014

Fringe Club – North Melbourne town Hall

Melbourne Fringe Festival