Schoolhouse Studios Coburg
I’m stuck in a long queue, with a lot of bleary eyes, coffee cups, and tweed jackets. I’m still a little bit angry that my alarm woke me up at 7am on a Saturday for a theatre show. But it all feels strangely perfect for my descent into 8 hours of corporate hell.
8/8/8: Work is a piercing piss-take on the contemporary work-place. We’re greeted with lessons on chronic boredom management, ice-breaker challenges, and a marathon QR check-in maze. I’ve been here an hour already, and haven’t even managed to get to my desk. This is legit.
We soon settled into an open-plan office turned amphitheater. Six desks occupy the stage. A small troupe of classic characters are stuck in a relentless quest of printing, copying, stapling, and visiting the water cooler. One woman in ugg-boots starts crying in the corner. The durational nature of this show allows us to hold on the scene for a good long while. Watching these characters suffer in their soulless pursuit of nebulous goals, or obsessively searching for the source of a mysterious ticking sound.
Such mundanity is eventually smashed by a relentless, greatest-hits parade of our capitalist civilisation. From the birth of industry, to the tech-bros of Silicon Valley. Lights, music, and dancing overtake the theatre. Just the place to see the military establishment sucking an Arch-bishops dick, or Colonel Sanders gleefully fucking Big Pharma. A parade of forces that eventually conspire magically into the messianic birth of one Jeff Bezos. We hail this ultimate king of consumerism, with a ritualistic shaving down of his heavenly, naked body.
It’s very easy to make fun of the contemporary workspace. The further we step back, the more horrifying it is to see how we’ve shaped ourselves into vapid cogs in boring, antagonistic machines. 8/8/8 is sickening and delightful, wildly entertaining and utterly exhausting. It’s a timely invitation to examine ourselves in our collective disenchantment. To ask ourselves if our work-ethic, productivity, and energetic self-affirmations are really serving us. If headaches, burnout, and escapist bathroom wanks are possibly speaking to a deeper yearning for change.
It’s in the final chapter, with some well-earned knock-off drinks, that we all finally come together. I’m reminded that it’s when we stop, and allow for some human interaction, that work sort-of feels worthwhile. And I wonder why we wait until 4pm on a Friday to start feeling something again.