The word of the year in 2016 was post-truth. According to the dictionary, post-truth is an adjective which can be defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.’ But what does it mean for us? We’re so used to hearing it in reference to world leaders, to politicians, to the media we forget that actually our lives are made up of ‘post-truths’ as well.
So here’s truth number 1- I tell lies every single day – not big lies but small white lies, lies told to my students so I don’t knock their confidence or exaggerations to lend weight to a good story, and I’m not the only one. The start of the show asked people to raise their hands according to lies they have told (and there were a lot of raised hands a lot of the time), and I suspect that everybody reading this will also lie regularly. There are a whole host of different types of lie (28 according to a well-known encyclopedic website) and most people will tell a whole combination of them every day. But it’s not just the lies we tell to others that shape our lives, it’s the lies we tell ourselves, the stories we construct around our memories to twist our experiences, the ways in which we shape ourselves to fit with the people around us, the things we tell ourselves to get us through the day. We all deal less in objective facts and more in emotions and beliefs.
I think this is the point of Francesca Beard’s play, that post-truth is not something reserved for people in the limelight, all of us are post-truth people. But I have to be honest (after all this is a play about honesty), I didn’t really get the point. Or more specifically I got the point of the show(it was spelled out pretty clearly at the end) but I didn’t understand the relevance of the journey in getting us there. It was totally nonsensical- as Francesca Beard moved around the stage in an explorer suit, jumping between different narratives in different fantasy lands, searching for truth, I regularly found myself questioning the point. There didn’t seem to be any common link or theme which made sense of the whole thing.
That’s not to say there weren’t glimmers of potential, where politicians were quoted, and where common phrases and sayings were disproved, it became more interesting and there were odd moments of amusement here and there. It was a nice twist to turn the concept of post-truth inwards but ultimately, I haven’t come away having had some big revelation about the lies I tell or the society we live in, and I don’t really feel like I’ve learnt something new or different. In fact, I feel more as if I’ve listened to somebody’s internal monologue which has been voiced out loud for 80 minutes, although it is of great comfort to know that it is perhaps as confused and unsure as my own.
Revioew by Emily Diver
Following a sell-out performance at London’s Roundhouse, Francesca Beard’s one-woman show How To Survive A Post-Truth Apocalypse returns for an exciting UK tour. Beard mixes storytelling, verse, spoken word, audience interaction and a game of ‘Whose Lie Is It Anyway’ as she leads audiences on a journey to explore lies in all their forms and what it means to be human.
How To Survive A Post-Truth Apocalypse
Age recommendation 16+
Twitter @PT_Apocalypse, #PostTruthShow
Written and Performed by Francesca Beard
Director and Dramaturg Rob Watt
Producer Tom MacAndrew
Sound Design Jethro Cooke
Lighting Design Charlie Morgan Jones
Video and Costume Design Shawn Soh
Developed with support from Apples and Snakes, Improbable, Cambridge Junction and Roundhouse.