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An interactive, mind-boggling murder mystery performance seeks to find the political in everyday life. 
“Ceci n’est pas la politique” by B-floor Theater, Thailand’s premier underground troupe, is an interactive, avant-garde murder mystery conceived and directed by Jaa Phantachat and scripted by Pattareeya Puapongsakorn. Participating audience members hold up red, yellow, green, or blue cards to vote for the outcome of the mystery’s six suspects, performed by Pavinee Samakkbutr, Napak Tricharoendej, Ornanong Thaisriwong, Dujdao Vadhanapakorn, Sasapin Siriwanij, and Parnrat Kritchanchai. The director, Jaa, is known for such audience-dependent performances such as this year’s “The Test of Endurance,” where audiences are subjected to endless Thai dance and can leave whenever they want, with the performance ending when the last audience member has left.
In “Ceci n’est pas la politique,” a grand old auntie with an expensive painting has been found dead in a resort. Her sister, niece, best friend, sister-in-law, nurse, and secretary are thrown into panic and alibi-crafting when the body is discovered. With the help of monochrome ultramarine walls and a projector, seemingly random multiple choice questions appear for audiences to vote on. The participating audience (who pay 520THB instead of 650 for the observing audience) then vote on questions such as “How many times a day can you take disappointment?” or “Which Gossip Girl character are you?” The interactivity is reminiscent of choose-your-own-adventure novels and Clue games.
The answers that win determine the fates of the six suspects. Therefore, each performance is different: each audience group is allowed to exercise their voices in a voting arena and directly influence the show. “The majority thinks differently from you” displays the projector menacingly several points, and a suspect is bagged and dragged of the stage. 
“Ceci n’est pas la politique,” provides a voice-practicing arena for the politically-averse Thai. You know the type—those that blatantly refuse to discuss or even inform themselves about anything political. “I don’t meddle with politics. I have no opinion whatsoever,” they say, shutting down conversations as if allergic to the p-word. There, the audience did not play-act as participating voters, but persevering apolitical Thais, forced to stare at a torturous, grotesque display of official “Thainess”—just like they do in real life, with the Thai political scene parading before them.  
The audience votes in "Ceci n'est pas la politique"
With a Magritte-referencing, tongue-in-cheek title like “This is not politics,” B-floor seeks to show that everything is political, even the everyday, mundane lives of six women snipping at each other. The traditional boundary of politics staying outside of the domestic sphere is reversed on its head: it is as inescapable as the blue room the all-female cast are stuck in, glaring at each other from across corners. 
At each vote, the audience is forced to confront the outcome of their decisions. Even the choice to be a non-participating, observing audience is shown to be political stance. Dissatisfaction, missed opportunity, even a sense of disempowerment fills the observer, who has to sit on their hands, doing nothing but watching while participating audience members cast their powerful, colourful votes. At one point during one performance, the participating audience who had purchased character cards of the six suspects for 10THB each in the lobby could even “revive” a chosen character. 
Having six distinct characters also provides someone for you to side with. Finding out what kind of character you root for says something about you—and that’s a political stance, says “Ceci n’est pas la politique.” What is your political voice, your political style? Do you side with the secret-keeping methods of the gossiping, wheedling sister-in-law? Did you appreciate the efforts of the persevering nurse and her stretched-thin smile? Or do you identify with the schizophrenic, panicking niece with many faces, smiling sweetly one moment and cursing others to death in the next? 
“Ceci n’est pas la politique” ran from 8-13, 16-20 December in both Thai and English at B-floor’s Democrazy Studio. Prachatai hopes to further illuminate B-floor’s intentions of encouraging those who are usually apolitical in thinking politically. Check out B-floor’s Facebook page for news of their future work. 
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