What happened at The Money : Friday Reads

The Money by Kaleider at Gloucester Cathedral is one of those events we are definitely all going to be talking about for years to come. Eliott Sheppard was one of those lucky enough to watch as the drama of this unique, participatory show unfolded.

“Bringing together a community from all different backgrounds has been something that Strike A Light has been championing since the organisation was founded. Having been a part of the ever-growing family since 2014 where I was volunteering in King’s Walk Shopping Centre sticking velcro cubes to myself, what has continued to amaze me is the range of venues in Gloucester that have opened their doors to visiting theatre companies each year, from Gloucester Guildhall to The Cathedral, Gloucestershire College to Dr. Fosters Waterfront Bar. I am now employed casually by SAL to be technical support for companies, as well as work Front of House with the brilliant and passionate team. 

I am breaking down everything above because this year, even more than previous years of Strike a Light productions, the diversity of audience that has gathered together to come and watch shows has been refreshing, with a range of ages and cultural backgrounds breaking down barriers to unite and watch performances. This is where I digress to talk about the most engaged, passionate piece of entertainment I have seen in quite some time; Kaleider’s The Money

The Money was situated in Chapter House at Gloucester Cathedral. The venue had recently hosted Stella, a previous Strike A Light production to coincide with Museum of the Moon. The rules of The Money were simple; 15 ‘Players’ sit around a table with £150 at stake, whilst over 100 ‘Silent Witnesses’ are gathered around all sides of the room, unable to speak their thoughts unless a donation was added to the existing pot of money and a gong has rippled throughout the room. With the £150 prize pot, the players around the table must unanimously decide who gets to take home the money; it cannot go to a charity, it has to be within the law, and you have one hour to decide, with a clock counting down in one corner of the room. 

Now I am someone who gets so anxious about confrontation, especially on TV and hidden camera shows, that I would usually turn the channel over or walk out of a room, but something about the event that evening had my heart racing and I was campaigning *silently* with such adrenaline that I had never had before. It was an experience which feels so hard to explain but one I will probably not stop talking about for a long time. Players presented their ideas: one wanting to give the money to a specific homeless man; entrepreneurs wanting to start a new business; a group of young climate change protesters wanting to buy materials for their campaign. The inclusion of a BSL interpreter made the whole event more accessible for those who wanted to get involved.

At the start it all felt quite calm, but as the clock ticked away, so did the patience around the table. One Player walked out of the game, Silent Witnesses ran forward with their money to support, with the £150 prize pot nearly doubling by the end. As the clock struck the hour the game was over. No unanimous decision was made and people jumped up and shouted out without realising what they were doing. The money was snatched away, placed inside a sealed black box, and was escorted out of the room, with the promise that it would be rolled over to the next game…. at Théâtre de Lorient, France.”

Eliott Sheppard