FEBRUARY 2022 | Volume 212


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TM (Online Only)
Ontroerend Goed
The Cultch
Feb. 2-13
$29 or 604-251-1363

TM is one-on-one theatre, livestreamed by The Cultch and produced by Ontroerend Goed, the Belgian company that gave us the innovative Fight Night at The Cultch in 2016. Theatre might not be exactly the right word for this show. Show is inexact, too. Let’s call it an event. In fact, it primarily takes the form of an interview. You are the subject of this event.

There’s a certain amount of conspiratorial suggestion in the promotional material and online preliminaries involving the nature of this shadowy organization, TM, which does not, in this case, stand for transcendental meditation. I first met three other subjects, one from Vancouver, two from Illinois. We were addressed by a facilitator who then sent us to a woman who stared straight at me for a minute or so before saying mysterious things like, “You want to challenge your own worldview, you’ve come to the right place. We are as old as humanity. Once you know who we are, you will see us everywhere—even in the mirror.” A series of testimonials followed, one woman obviously an actor. Staring woman #1 then reappeared to tell me that the one-on-one that followed would be a test to see if I qualify for TM.

Eventually, I meet my interviewer, an attractive young woman who stares unnervingly into my eyes. She introduces herself as Ellison from Singapore. The gist of the event now follows, and it is far more compelling than any of the preliminaries or the TM manifesto at the end. Ellison asks me a series of questions, most concerning morality and mortality. Some are either/or choices: Would I rather foresee my own death or the death of humanity? Then I’m given a scale from one to twenty, one being pure evil, twenty absolute good. Where would I place myself on the scale? various others?

Ellison is a skilled interviewer with excellent timing. Ultimately, she assesses my answers and me. I like her assessment. I am flattered by it. I wonder if this is because I really am a very good person (wouldn’t that be nice), or more likely because everyone gets a positive assessment that leaves them feeling good about themselves. “We are good people,” says one of the points of the TM Manifesto, “better than we think we are.”

When I realize what TM stands for, I’m slightly deflated. But in this age of cynicism, division and disease, it’s a lot better than most of the alternatives.



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