Dissocia PosterBy Adam Cowart


Directed by: Andy Houston

Performances: February 9-12, 2011

Matinees: February 12-13, 2011

Venue: Hagey Hall 180, Humanities Building


This multimedia production, directed by Andy Houston, dramaturged by Lisa O’Connell and Erica Robinson, with film and video design by Mark Walton, music and sound by Nancy Tam, and scenography and design by Scott Spidell, has emerged from the research undertaken by a group of dramaturgy students at the University of Waterloo and was presented in Studio 180, Hagey Hall, February 9-12 at 8pm and February 12-13 at 2pm.

DISSOCIA examined the role that addiction plays in the ‘performance’ of everyday consumerism. The title refers to dissociative states of being and what happens when a person compartmentalizes his or her life into various activities so that addictive, abusive or other unethical activity is effectively concealed from the person's sense of self in the other compartments. This is what happens when people become addicted to gambling, shopping, sex, exercise, drugs, alcohol, work, and other activities – that become diversions from self-awareness.

The show focused on digital gambling addiction, but it approached this issue through the idea that is gambling as an exploitative business is not unlike other businesses that claim to provide entertainment – for a price.

Through the use of digital imagery and sound, the play became part reality, part reality TV and part mythology. We saw the stories of a casino owner and his son, two daughters of a gambler, and a woman who commits suicide in the washroom of the casino while a staff member tries to 'help'. There was a pronounced focus here on the root cause of addictive behaviour, mostly in the absence of loved ones or other traumatic rupture, such as the loss of a family member.

One of the most traumatic betrayals, based in part on a true story, was that of a father whose gambling addiction leads him to exploit his youngest daughter in order to serve his addiction.

This play examined how our society is slowly becoming addicted to immediate gratification, delivered digitally to us in so many forms. This was DISSOCIA.

The creators of DISSOCIA wish to acknowledge the generous support and guidance of Dr. Kevin Harrigan and the Problem Gambling Research Team at the University of Waterloo.