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The Lady or the Tiger

"The poetic justice of pure chance ..."

Bondi Feast 2019: Mikala Westall describes thrill of watching something you feel you shouldn’t be allowed to.

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Company: Bondi Feast
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The Lady or the Tiger

Date: 29 Jun 2019

Spoiler alert: the following article may contain revealing details from significant works of art of the 20th century.

We strongly advise you to exercise caution, lest you read something you’ll later regret. 

But if you didn’t already know that Tony Stark dies at the end or that Bruce Willis was a ghost all along, well, what do you want us to do about it? It’s been ages. Where have you even been? You brought it on yourself. 

We won’t be spoiling the ending of The Lady or the Tiger for you though. Mainly because it has no ending. It was purposely, and infuriatingly, left open-ended. An ‘it’s up to your interpretation’-type deal. 

An arena. Two doors.

Behind one, a man-eating tiger.

Behind the other, a fair maiden.

Mauled or married? The choice is yours. And, for the princess’s young lover, who came out of the door; the lady or the tiger? Well, we don’t know because Frank R. Stockton, the slightly smug author of this 19th century doozy didn’t tell us.

Either way, whether this hapless young lover is immediately and brutally slaughtered by a hungry beast or frog marched down the aisle to marry a young woman (plucked from her home by a semi-barbaric king) he’s never laid eyes on, we still get a really good show, right? I mean, this is showbiz. Anything goes.

Don’t be ashamed. We understand. That thrill of watching something you feel you shouldn’t be allowed to. Of slowing down to crane your neck and inspect a car crash. To search for that glimpse of meat amongst the mangled metal and rubber. Or to secretly hope that the news article announcing another dead woman will give more and more in-depth details about how she died –  a sort of public access crime podcast.

How about tuning in to an up-late episode of a reality show where the shower scenes are missing that pixelated modesty and the bedroom footage is a voyeur’s dream?

We get it. It’s showbiz. You want to be entertained. We want you to be entertained. And that’s partly why we made this show.

Partly. Because on the other hand, of course, there is art. We mean real art. 

The poetic justice of pure chance, a 50-50 choice, the obvious allegory pointing to human cruelty, torture and those deep recesses of the human heart we artists often get lost in. Real art that provides no answers, no recap of what’s just happened or what’s on the next episode. We’re artists, our job is to ask questions. This is an ‘it’s up to your interpretation’-type deal. 

The Lady or The Tiger at Bondi Feast is real art. Or is it real entertainment?

While grappling with a moral dilemma, a choice between two fates, we’ve found reality television, victim blaming and the very human obsession with watching others suffer.

Oh, and spoilers. Our show straddles the line between the two, between high and low, light and dark. Much like Anakin Skywalker who it turns out is actually the father of Leia and Luke and then gets his hand chopped off before he dies.

Oh, had you not seen that yet? Oops. 

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