We love a Hollywood romance as much as the next person, but Melbourne's Bron Batten is bringing something better: a live performance in which an audience member is invited onstage to join her on a first date.
Will they fall in love and live happily ever after? Or will they say good-bye, parting with an awkward, empty promise of a phone call? You'll have to wait the 60-minute duration to find out.
"I was interested in the rise of online dating and how dating used to be this sort of a private courtship and something quite intimate," Batten, creator and performer of 'Onstage Dating' told The Huffington Post Australia.
"Now, with online dating our profiles are public and dating has become like a national pastime. The tender search for love has become this public spectacle," Batten said.
With 26 million matches made on Tinder each day, many of which resulting in a 'real life' date, Batten wanted to highlight this now-regular phenomenon live, in front of an audience.
The concept? Audience members answer a questionnaire not dissimilar to the those that appear on an online dating profile. They indicate if they'd be happy to take the stage and from there Batten chooses her suitor based on what's written down.
"It's really quite arbitrary -- I'll generally just choose someone who looks like they've engaged with the questions -- and well, to be honest if they look good on paper," Batten said.
Almost the same as swiping right on someone because of their profile picture, right?
Once on stage, the date is divided into three parts; having wine and cheese, playing a game and getting into bed all the while answering those 36 questions that went viral a few years ago following the New York Times essay, "To fall in love with anyone, do this."
Such questions include everything from the last time you cried in front of another person to the relationship you have with your mother.
"Dating in real life to an extent is about putting on a show and presenting yourself in a way that is perhaps not always accurate," Batten said.
As well delivering a good hour's worth of sometimes cringey entertainment, Batten said she hopes the show encourages people to be braver, and to be more open and accepting.
"There's a sense of risk that comes when you put yourself out there -- but really, it's a leap of faith," Batten said.
Batten, who admits she's a romantic at heart said her research began when she was in Paris. Not surprisingly, her material came from her own dating experiences.
I started to build the show around the structure of these dates. I wanted to put something which is usually private on stage in a public setting and hold a mirror up to the vulnerability that comes with that.
"I'd set up dates online, mainly through Tinder, and while they were fun and nice, I did have an ulterior motive -- I was observing from a scientific distance," Batten said.
"I started to build the show around the structure of these dates. I wanted to put something which is usually private on stage in a public setting and hold a mirror up to the vulnerability that comes with that," Batten said.
As for whether she prefers real-life dating over onstage?
"I was thinking about it the other day and no matter how awkward or weird the onstage dates are, they're still not as awkward or weird as the dates I went on in real life," Batten said.
"It's funny because the audience almost becomes a witness -- they're like the third person on the date -- and there's no way to hide from that," Batten said.
Who knows, perhaps this kind of accountability, rather than simply 'swiping left' is what we've been missing all along.
Adelaide Fringe Festival will take place from February 17 - March 19, tickets are on sale now.
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