Earlier last month, Unlimited trainee Mojere Ajayi-Egunjobi visited Brighton to see Gloopshow: Glooptopia, a co-commission with the Marlborough Theatre as part of New Queers on the Block. Here she shares her thoughts on the themes explored in the show.
I must admit, I don’t have the greatest attention span. If someone had suggested to me a show on the concept of commucracy for Saturday night entertainment, I might have laughed and walked away. However, I remembered one unseasonably warm afternoon in September – one of those moments I could feel my attention wandering – being greeted to the delight of Gloop.
In a very snazzy turtleneck and leather kilt combo, towering above us all in their high heels, they demanded the attention of our Pitch and Mix audience. After witnessing how a simple slideshow could wake up a whole auditorium, I knew I wanted to see what this commucracy was all about.
So, I headed on a train to Brighton to indulge in the spectacle of Glooptopia and I was not disappointed. The journey began with Gloop on stage, talking to their imaginary manager stating that they couldn’t possibly do the show tonight because they weren’t in the right mindset. The imaginary manager, also voiced by Gloop, dismissed their concerns. As I watched the show, I was reminded of all the times I’ve had to swallow my own complaints because they’d fallen on deaf ears. Times that I’ve had to work despite severe fatigue and pain. But here, Gloop presented the solution, a system that valued care above all else: Commucracy!
Commucracy, as defined in the nice yellow leaflets handed out to the audience: ‘Commucracy is communist democracy.’ Aided by giant cue cards and many wonderful outfit changes, we learned about all the other failed attempts of democracy, oligarchy, and their evil father, patriarchy. The ‘arche’ was not a reasonable way to be governed because it implied someone was on top and someone else was below. New words were thrown at us, then thrown away with the next cue card as we learned about the past political structures. What separates Commucracy from the rest is that it places care at the top of the ‘arche.’
Gloop explores this, at one point luring us into a faux ASMR hypnosis and meditation. I close my eyes to imagine the life I would live as a disabled black femme under Commucracy. With the luxury of universal basic income, designed to give everyone the ability to tell people to ‘fuck off’ (work, family, friends, scorned lovers). Social housing would mean I could live independently (especially after telling all the aforementioned people to fuck off) and free healthcare, well, if you’re chronically ill free healthcare is tantamount to winning the lottery. Chronically ill people don’t usually have the luxury of saying no in any capacity. Just imagining giving a giant middle finger to capitalism as I skipped to a commucratic utopia was entertainment enough for me.
At one-point Gloop repeated the line:
“If I can’t see myself I can’t acknowledge myself, and if I can’t acknowledge myself I can’t know myself, and if I don’t know who I am, I don’t know what I’m saying, and if I don’t know what I’m saying how can you understand me?”
Hearing this repeated felt like witnessing a spell. I wondered if the right person in the audience would hear it. It resonated with me deeply as it was a feeling I recognized. The need to see yourself represented on the main stage in order to feel like your experiences are valid. To look at a performance and find the parts that related to me felt like being simultaneously seen and known, even though the performer on paper would be my complete opposite. I thought of those who would see this and not see themselves, those who needed to hear it the most, because they were the ones with the power to effect change.
I wondered what art would look like under commucracy and if it would still function the same way. If ‘creating’ from a sense of contentment and financial safety would have the same sense of satisfaction as ‘creating’ in spite of adversity. Does art exist to give a voice to those who are voiceless, or does it exist to uphold all those arche’s we learned about earlier in the show?
Art affords us the space to dream and Gloop’s dream was beautiful, hilarious, and chaotic. It left me wondering if it could all be possible. As for me, I’ll take time to deal in care over currency, and hope that others do the same.