A powerful and provocative new play exploring the Robodebt crisis and its impact on vulnerable Australians in Western Sydney and beyond, Campbelltown Arts Centre (C-A-C) presents bad machine at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre from 12 March 2022.
Born and raised in Western Sydney, playwright Brooke Robinson and director Lily Balatincz are proud to be presenting the first performance work to explore this social welfare crisis, forcing audiences to ask hard-hitting questions about the events which led to the Robodebt tragedy and face the far-reaching consequences felt across vulnerable populations nationally.
While a plethora of journalistic research and statistics on the subject exist, bad machine humanises this disturbing data and is a representation of the voiceless masses affected through the lens of four people. This powerful and provocative new work will illuminate the devastating human impact of the algorithm-driven campaign.
Orchestrated by the Australian Federal Government, Robodebt saw some of the most vulnerable members of society targeted using artificial intelligence through an automated audit system with devastating results.
Described as “extortion” by the longest-serving member of Australia’s government review tribunal*, the program issued over 400,000 computer-generated debt notices demanding payment from Centrelink users, many of whom did not owe the government money.
Notices issued by debt-collectors and letters from the Australian Federal Police included threats of jail if payments were not honoured.
“Behind the harrowing Robodebt figures are thousands of real people, many vulnerable, who were pushed to the point of despair by the actions of their elected leaders,” said Director Lily Balatincz. “bad machine is the first performance work to explore the subject and I’m thrilled to be part of the creative team bringing it to life at Campbelltown Arts Centre.”
“Theatre is a powerful agent for self-reflexivity and social change. It is our hope that this important new play, premiering at a timely moment ahead of an upcoming federal election, provokes consideration of the human consequences of government policies and legislation,” said Balatincz.
“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to write this new play about such a vital issue and dark chapter in our recent political history,” adds Playwright Brooke Robinson. “It’s particularly special to be presenting it to the community in my home town.”
“We hope it will raise important questions about community and the kind of society we all want to live in – especially as we emerge from the pandemic,” said Robinson.
We are proud to commission bad machine by playwright Brooke Robinson and director Lily Balatincz,” said Michael Dagostino, Director of Campbelltown Arts Centre. “Campbelltown Arts Centre plays a significant role as a provocateur exploring timely issues that have an impact locally but resonate globally, while creating a vessel for difficult conversations.”
“bad machine lay forth the dark side of Artificial Intelligence, where a computer-generated algorithm devoid of human compassion creates adverse results within our local community.”
“As AI fill our everyday, with little oversight, are we heading toward something out of Black Mirror where algorithms make decisions and compassion is lost?” said Dagostino.
Director: Lily Balatincz | Featuring: Rob Johnson, Abbie-lee Lewis, Gail Knight, George Spartels | Voice: Damon Herriman | Sound Designer: Robbie Balatincz | Composers: Robbie Balatincz and Kirin J Callinan | Lighting and Video Designer: Aron Murray | Set & Costume Designer: Emma White | Directing Mentor: Imara Savage | Sound Outside Eye: Peter Lenaerts | Stage Manager: Victoria Lewis | Assistant Stage Manager: Cindy Cavero | Creative Producer: Anthea Doropoulos | Playwright: Brooke Robinson
Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 1 Powerhouse Road, Casula
Season: 12 – 19 March 2022
Information and Bookings: www.c-a-c.com.au
Image: bad machine (supplied)