This Play Can Turn Lefty Hipsters Into Capitalist Swine

By Nick Cowen on at

It's very easy to be magnanimous towards your fellow man when you're sipping a craft beer with your beret-wearing mates. It's a little different when you're sitting in a boardroom and you're staring down the barrel of the next shareholders' meeting.

This seems to be the fact that emerging from recent performances of a piece of interactive theatre over at the Young Vic, which according to The Guardian, have the power to turn the most liberal of theatre-goers into capitalists, concerned only with the bottom line of their balance sheets. Imaginary balance sheets at that.

World Factory, a play by Zoe Svendsen, divides the audiences into sixteen teams who are in charge of a textile factory in the Chinese province of Shenzhen. As the play unfolds, they're tasked with running the operations and faced with choices such as how to deal with troublesome employees, how to get clients to cough up for services rendered or whether or not to raise wages to allow their staff to live like human beings.

According to data captured on every performance, it seems that World Factory brings out the cold-hearted accountant in all of us.

“Most people who were given the choice to raise wages – having cut them – did not," Svendsen told The Guardian. "There is a route in the decision-tree that will only get played if people pursue a particularly ethical response, but very few people end up there. What we’ve realised is that it is not just the profit motive but also prudence, the need to survive at all costs, that pushes people in the game to go down more capitalist routes.”

This depressing result could be because audience members know that the people they're laying to waste aren't real. Then again, it could be that being liberal is just a phase for most of us. In which case, that recent UK election result is starting to make a little more sense, isn't it?