Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Summerhall – Lobby


Summerhall – Lobby 13:45 sharp, my mobile starts ringing as expected. I pick up and the female voice of a stranger starts talking to me with the familiar lilt of a cold call. Funny how, despite knowing about it, a passing thought urges me to hang up. However, this isn’t an unsolicited sales call, but a dedicated helpline providing advice on how to cope with the end of the world and it’s me who requested the service in the first place. Shaped around the model of the teleconsultations introduced as a response to the Covid pandemic, users are guided…

Rating



Good

Inspired by her own work as an outsourced call handler during the Covid pandemic, performance artist Katrine Turner offers phone consultations on how to deal with the imminent end of the world.

13:45 sharp, my mobile starts ringing as expected. I pick up and the female voice of a stranger starts talking to me with the familiar lilt of a cold call. Funny how, despite knowing about it, a passing thought urges me to hang up. However, this isn’t an unsolicited sales call, but a dedicated helpline providing advice on how to cope with the end of the world and it’s me who requested the service in the first place.

Shaped around the model of the teleconsultations introduced as a response to the Covid pandemic, users are guided through a flowchart with questions aimed at identifying whether they’re worrying for the right things or if their expectations have been met. An algorithm sorts through the follow up questions, with the final outcome being tailored for each individual – at least so we are told.

My whole experience lasts just over ten minutes, at the end of which I am given my bespoke piece of advice. It is the excerpt of a poem by Ilya Kaminsky, published in his 2019 collection “Deaf Republic”. It questions the existence of God and what us humans have been allowing to happen in his name.  Are they referring to the climate emergency, or to the invasion of Ukraine, or what else in our doomed civilisation? Whatever the reason, it feels ominous.

It’s a simple but thought-provoking format, made all the more effective because it reaches out to us into the very personal space of our cell phones. Intentionally, it leaves pressing questions suspended, compelling us to find the real answers and consider whether, when the end of the world does eventually come, we’ll be confident we have done everything in our power to avert it. It is also an implicit criticism of outsourcing as an exploitative work model.

If you are at the Summerhall foyer, you can watch all the performances live through the window of the old box office.


Written and Produced by: Katrine Turner

An Alternative Helpline for the End of the World plays at EdFringe 2023 until 27 August, times vary. Further information and bookings here.


By Sandra Winters

Writer | Author | Wordsmith Passionate about crafting stories that captivate and inspire. Published author of [Book Title]. Dedicated to exploring the depths of human emotions and experiences through the power of words. Join me on this literary journey as we delve into the realms of imagination and uncover the beauty of storytelling.