Previously seen inside the House of Commons, awarded four and five stars from critics, The Money by Kaleider, came to Hull last night for Heads Up Festival, to play out inside our own corridors of power at the Guildhall.
The Set Up: A pot of real money on the table, in tens and twenties there for all to see. One group called the Benefactors who have each contributed to the pot of cash. One group called the Silent Witnesses who watch proceedings and can buy in to influence the outcome.
‘It is hard to believe as I sit here in this lofty position, inside the Council Chambers, that once I was homeless. Bounced around the city’s hostel system but now I am here. On the eve of the closure of one homeless shelter and the recent news of another planned closure in three months, I propose the money should go to support the vital work done by charities working with the homeless in Hull.’ Michelle Dee ‘Voice of Culture’
Each Benefactor made a similar plea, there were cases made for Butterflies Dementia group, St Paul’s Boxing Gym refurbishment: t’would seem the Olympic sheen is wearing thin. The plight of the Black Rhino was also raised. It is incredible and something of a coincidence, to think that up until I was lobbied, just before going into chambers, I had prepared a case for the protection of rhino – that’s politics for you…
There was a very emotive speech made for the money to go to one single Benefactor, who had, the week previous, been the victim of a frightening burglary at her home. Also a suggestion that the money should be used to M.O.T. theatre luvvie Dave W’s car. An earlier call for us all to just have a grand old piss up, was quickly taken off the table. There was much discussion over the possibility of the money being invested, to create 5 new Donors at Kardomah 94, for the business/creative philanthropic scheme.
None of this is going to make much sense and that’s pretty much how we and the Silent Witnesses felt at the beginning. After being given the briefest of guidance by the two Kaleider representatives, there was a moments silence, so I took it upon myself to take control of the situation. I stood up and strode about chambers, reading out loud to all present, the rules of The Money. That was just like an impromptu spoken word gig: albeit in a very grand setting.
There are rules to #TheMoney there are always rules. What is governance without rules… and ritual? Bells will ring, the gong will sound… all the while the clock is counting down. It must be a unanimous decision, all the Benefactors must agree on what is to happen to the money: all of it.
This experience – it’s not really a play or a performance – is about group dynamics, it is about personalities and I am told that, as we continued to debate and argue points of protocol and procedure, personalities did emerge. Tempers, tension and voices rose all the while the clock ticked down. If we did not reach a decision upon which we all agreed, the money would be lost.
We were not playing characters, all though the setting inside Hull City Council Chambers at the Guildhall, certainly added a sense of grandeur and theatre to proceedings. We were ordinary folk sitting in the same place where, hours earlier, our elected representatives had been. I do wonder about the outcome if it had not been us non-politicians, but real councillors, fighting over the money. Would they have managed to reach a unanimous decision in the allotted time?
Tick Tick Tick…it started at ninety minutes…. now we have less than ten to agree what is to happen to the cash. We on the front benches have each made impassioned pleas to our fellow benefactors, trying to persuade them that our cause is the most worthy. Did we do it? Did we stop the money from leaving Hull and rolling over to the next event?
Yes. We did. Despite a last minute potential bear trap from the save the rhino brigade and the emergence of a very dubious voting system – I pointed out that the only way forward was to employ the one person one vote system – we all signed on the dotted line.
#TheMoney is to be donated to Dock House Homeless Shelter (HullHarp)
I would like to offer my sincerest congratulations to all of The Benefactors, for their participation and their wise choice supporting what was, after all, my cause. Did I win? Some certainly said so and showered me with praise, as we sipped wine just outside chambers… but I believe we all won. Hull triumphed. It was only right and proper that we did. Where others had failed to reach a decision, 15 ordinary people unanimously decided how to spend £500.00.
The Money will take place next on the 19th and 20th March in Tianjin at the Tianjin Grand Theatre in China. Taking into account Chinese autocracy, the silencing, sometimes permanently, of dissident voices, I am intrigued to learn how the drama plays out in the East.