Obey! Deceive! Devour!

A new open air performance by CACTUS performance. art. collective.

Obey! Deceive! Devour! explores the complexity of belonging through playful action and takes place in public meeting spaces. How does one fit in and how long can this last? If I’m not who you think I am, then neither are you.

About the work

“If I am not who you think I am, then neither are you.

(Fisher in Boullata (ed.), 2008, p. 67)

Obey! Deceive! Devour! provokes the audience to question how they place themselves (practically and metaphorically) in a situation constructed by the performers in a public space where people habitually congregate. Examining the idea that to belong is to feel part of something and/or somewhere, this work addresses the ways in which we behave in public, from who we interact with and to how safe or not we feel. The performance action unfolds subtly, setting up a situation in which an invited audience and passers-by are induced to choose how they act or interact (or not). A number of volunteer participants will support the main performers’ action.

Obey! Deceive! Devour! also draws from the collective’s international and transcultural nature: its three founders come from Brazil, Greece and Palestine and are based in London and Ramallah. Notions of belonging and otherness are perpetually challenged within CACTUS’ work and this new performance directly grapples with how identity is linked to language and how belonging can be contingent.

“If the world is experienced as ‘unhomely’, it is partly due to the way we populate it with unseen and threatening ‘others’ that are ungraspable precisely because, in all likelihood, they are phantoms conjured up by an increasingly paranoid public imagination fuelled by state interests and a complicit media”. (Fisher in Boullata (ed.), 2008, p. 68)

CACTUS’ work is built on active interplay between the audience and space, constructed with rules and games. The body is central to the work, both technically and conceptually and this transfers to how our audience is treated. Whether interacting or watching, the audience is always active and moved to think.


Obey! Deceive! Devour! falls under the collective’s continuing inquiry into how performance can poetically engage audiences with big (and political) ideas in non-conventional spaces. Although the ideas and sometimes the aesthetic behind each work vary, a common approach to making interlinks CACTUS’ work. A focus on rule-setting and breaking, games, and drawing from autobiographical material in combination with information from/about the sites and people CACTUS engages with all characterise the making process.

CACTUS’ most recent work (The Shape of Water) was developed through a process of collective and competitive game-playing and site-responsive exercises, which lead to the construction of two very different performances in London and Ramallah. Obey! Deceive! Devour! continues in the same vein, beginning with creative exploration of the site and its context with rehearsal and development of the performance action in-studio and then in situ. Working within an openly public space serves to simultaneously make the performance accessible to a wider (non-theatre going) audience, as well as to explore the immediacy and unpredictability such a space implies.

Obey! Deceive! Devour! further explores how the collective’s individual identities feed into the work and how these influence how each CACTUS member belongs in the collective. Obey! Deceive! Devour! reflects both on the idea at large as well as on the collective and its work.



Concept & creation: Thais Mennsitieri, Dafne Louzioti, Noora Baker


June 17 2015 – Athens National Gardens

June 21 2015 – Zurich, Der Längste Tag Festival