Review: Chicago Shakes Brings TM, a One-on-One Virtual Experience That Asks if You’re a Good Enough Person

Are you a good person? In TM, one spectator and one actor meet; the actor takes the spectator through a series of questions and exercises to determine if the spectator is a “good person” and eligible to be part of TM. It’s a worldwide organization made up of ordinary people trying to improve the world. Are you good enough to join TM?

TM, a curious streaming production, is part of Chicago Shakespeare’s WorldStage project. it’s a virtual, one-to-one experience exploring media manipulation and conspiracy theories. The production is by Belgian collective Ontroerend Goed, which previously produced the acclaimed Fight Night and A History of Everything at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The production is directed by Alexander Devriendt.

As we begin, four spectators find themselves on a virtual screen—two from Vancouver and two from Chicago. After a brief introduction and soundcheck, we each are connected with our own actor/interviewer. I found myself with Gabrielle from Brazil. She was polite but assertive and asked me a series of provocative questions and conducted a few “assignments” over the next 30 minutes. The questions are universal but feel very personal. Some asked me to define a point or characterize a person or event on a scale between good and evil or to answer yes or no as to whether I would commit a certain act. Do you believe in pure evil? Are you reluctant to hurt another human being? How would your parents rate on the good-evil scale? What would you do if you suddenly had a lot of money?

I won’t tell you any more because that would spoil the mood. I will just say that they are serious questions about your worldview and your own position on issues that may be good or evil. At the end, Gabrielle declared me higher on the good/evil scale than I had placed myself and said I was eligible to be a member of TM.  I imagine you will be too.

Ontroerend Goed’s TM is available through Sunday, February 13, to be livestreamed at home. You will need a desktop or laptop computer with webcam, microphone and headphones. It’s not compatible with a phone or tablet. Use Google Chrome web browser for the best experience. Tickets are $25 per device. The program is designed for one viewer per screen. Streaming times are 3pm to 9pm CST.

You’ll receive an email reminder the day before your performance and your unique access link on your ticketed day. About five minutes before your performance is scheduled to start, click that link to begin TM.

Audience notice: The conversation contains references to violence and is recommended for ages 16+.

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Nancy S Bishop

Nancy S. Bishop is publisher and Stages editor of Third Coast Review. She’s a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and a 2014 Fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. You can read her personal writing on pop culture at nancybishopsjournal.com, and follow her on Twitter @nsbishop. She also writes about film, books, art, architecture and design.

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