'Corporations in our Heads' explores exploitative corporate culture and consumer awareness

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Photo: Tim Matheson

Everyone has at least one moment of magnitude -- at what may be a workshop, a talk, a film, a concert or a play -- when they arrive unprepared, or perhaps exhausted and late. Much to their own bewilderment, however, they leave with great insight, validation or perhaps a newly-formed outlook through which they see culture and the finite resources of its structures.

This bewilderment ending in insight is the best way to sum up the mission behind Corporations in Our Heads, the interactive play from Headlines Theatre about people's relationships to corporations.

Arriving at the final weekend for the touring theatre project, the show has come back to Vancouver to finish it all off.

On Wednesday evening, the Gordon Neighborhood house was one of the smallest in both attendance and space, according to Artistic Director David Diamond. However, this was not apparent as everyone dove right in -- providing space for audience members to think cathartically about the intimate relations they perhaps struggle to discern and oppose with the corporate world.

With no theatrical outline, the evening was based primarily on the voluntary sharing of stories and experiences that reflect the dialectic nature of the struggle between personal and communal meaning and the messages of corporate advertising.

The transition of corporate messaging from the mundane and factual to the more familial, as though coming from the voice of a friend or family member, was an eerie recognition. The tactics of corporations have changed -- from profiting off our physical and material needs (and don't needs) -- to also exploiting our psychological and existential desires.

This came across well.

Diamond encouraged participants to form human characters out of the symbolism created to represent corporate branding. While laughs were easily had, it became clear that the living theatre was an abstract parable to the reality outside the space's walls. And a scary one it is.

What was most resonating was the internal struggle that plagues us all when dealing with the corporate system many of us know is structured by exploitative measures. We're aware of where many of our products come from, the hazardous environments for both people and the earth, and yet we're wired into a system where purity is nearly impossible and doesn't change anything on a mass scale.

The event was left fairly open-ended as to what the answers are and solutions that can be established. And that was the point.

The art of theatre -- namely Corporations in our Heads -- has the ability to ease the constant hum of systemic ringing in our ears by making us think more critically about what creates this behavior in the first place. And then we can finally end these unhealthy relationships with corporations.

It's time to break up. And that’s just one thing we can do.

Don't forget to see the end of the tour this weekend in Vancouver Friday at the Aboriginal Friendships Centre, Saturday at SFU Harbour Centre, and Sunday at Cafe Deux Soleils. 

Tania Ehret is a contributing editor at rabble.ca and indie inside coordinator.

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