I believe that Zupancic wrote the play as a hyperbole, an exaggeration of a genre that had not yet come to full form at the time. Death, disease and psychosis are the physical manifestations of life lived in front of the camera, and each contestant eventually succumbs to one or more of these unfortunate ends—the true realization of aspiration constructed upon the “reality show” dream. Of course, these situations may have appeared fantastical in 2001, but the epidemic that has since run rampant in social culture has drawn each extreme closer to reality. The roles of love, sex and friendship are blurred as actors struggle to equally maintain a sense of self as well as win public favor. Moments spent in the Corridor may provide momentary relief, but, as one actor notes, time to oneself for personal assessment only makes it more difficult to go back “in,” to once again don the robes of caricature that have crept unknowingly upon the backs of each. There are now roles to play, love to be made and broken, wars to wage and bodies to eventually fall—all according to an organic script, formed second by second and, once written, absolutely unalterable.
The reality epidemic has infected mainstream media to the point where the definition of celebrity has become woefully diluted. Notable VIPs on press releases include fashion designers, artists, playwrights and…Countess LuAnn. No longer content with a fruitful career in film and television, these “stars” have become comfortable with their 15 minutes; it is only the naïve who believe that eventual success can be built upon a superficial character, constructed not by themselves, but from bits and pieces of film left lying on the cutting room floor. The character of Dorian, played by Klemen Novak, also a founder of the Wayward Pen Foundation, is eventually unveiled as an employee of the media company, rather than a mere contestant. He is an extension of the corporate body designed to facilitate the exit of unfavorable contestants and to catalyze story lines according to the desires of the unseen public.
Nothing is real in reality television, and the sinister undertones of the play are difficult to write off as a construct of pure imagination; if anything, this feeling of discomfort only supports the idea that we, ourselves, are unwitting actors in our daily lives. If all the world’s a stage, which player are we? Or, as Klemen explains, “I wanted to examine what people do and why they do it. What is the ultimate sacrifice they are willing to make for fame? Once, people were content with witnessing daily rituals, waking up, brushing teeth, now they want more…where does it end? How much are we willing to sell?”
What, in effect, is the price of your soul? From what I have seen of reality television so far, not much. This play is a wonderful and thought provoking look into the reality television series. I only hope that the debate continues.