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Read: The show Babble shines a light on how we overuse technology

Sitting down in a theatre to watch a live show is a surreal experience in this time of a global pandemic. The first thing you think about is whether it is a wise choice to be sitting in close proximity to others. But then you remind yourself that New Zealand has no locally transmitted cases of Covid-19, and the number of people in the theatre is less than 500, and should you get it, they likelihood of dying is actually pretty small. 

You also remind yourself that life continues, and how important it is to support the arts and entertainment industry you love so much and report on. 

So you relax a bit….

But then someone coughs in the audience and you cant help but be distracted by it. At the same time, you also try desperately to control the allergy related cough you have, (and in fact almost always have), in case those around begin to worry. 

All that aside, I was excited to see Massive Company’s show Babble. It features twenty-four rangatahi who I assume are aged in their late teens or early twenties. 

It begins with a darkened theatre. We hear bird song and piano music. As our eyes become accustomed to the minimal light we see the floor covered in bodies. Then one face is illuminated by a cell-phone. 

I won’t say more about what happens, because Im not a spoiler. But those first moments give a clear indication of what is coming. Babble is a commentary on our fixation with mobile technology and social media.

Through choreography and moments of dialogue, we see the repetitive nature of our modern lives and how unsatisfactory they can be.

The show cleverly mocks our over-reliance on the internet and our vanity. The ways we now communicate such as ‘status updates’ ‘selfies’ and hashtags can ironically make us even more isolated.  The rise of trolling, the keyboard warriors, the online fights, keeping us further and further apart. 

Babble successfully combines movement, words, metaphor and symbolism to gently remind us that there is more to our world and lives than empty headed communication. Real human connection is what we all crave and need, and in the middle of a pandemic we need it even more. Yet, with self-isolation the current government sanctioned means of staving off infection, we might have to rely on social media even more. The sense I get from Babble is that we still can use it, but in a way that actually enhances our lives. 

Note – as at 19 March 2020 Babble is continuing to run as scheduled. 


11-29 March 2020

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