Counterpilot & Critical Stages Touring

Conceived & Directed by – Nathan Sibthorpe

Technical Design: Christine Felmingham

Sound Design: Mike Willmett

Software Design: Clinton Freeman

Graphic Design : Sean Dowling

Animation: Craig Wilkinson

AV Programming: Jeremy Gordon

Contraptions: John Felmingham

Voice Performance: Lauren Jackson

Project Collaborators: Cam Clark, Toby Martin, Jennifer Bismire

Dramaturgy: Benjamin Knapton

A high stakes interactive theatrical dinner experience

Does politics leave a bad taste in your mouth? The popular vote can be hard to swallow, but at the end of the day – we’ve all got to eat…

Crunch Time is an immersive performance dinner party designed to model the processes of democracy. Seated around a projector-mapped dining table participant diners use interactive tools to vote for every ingredient used in an elaborate 5-course meal.

Viewed via live-feed video from a nearby kitchen, a guest chef prepares real food in response to the demand. But we’re not using master chefs here – instead, each performance will nominate individuals from public positions of leadership – politicians, artistic directors and CEOs will take their turn to cook up requests from the dining room with thrillingly unpredictable results.

Available to Tour



Interdisciplinary, Immersive


Recommended for ages 18+


2.5 hours
including interval and 5 course meal

Venue Format

Black Box Venue, Town Hall

Performance Seasons

2018 – Next Wave Festival, 9 performances

2018 – Norman Theatre Brisbane, 10 performances

Selling Points and Audience

Key Audiences:

Immersive performance lovers: Crunch Time is a theatrical experience unlike any other. Audiences are activated via technology, smart design, and transmedia storytelling for a rich immersive experience that invites conversation long after dessert is served.

Festivals: With a limited number of audience members each night Crunch Time is an exciting theatrical product that will be a must-see – if you can get a ticket – and a strong PR story for your festival launch program.

Foodies: Fans of exclusive dining experiences will be highly engaged around the opportunity to directly affect the outcome of their meal from their seat at the table.

Reality Fans: The concept appeals to audiences familiar with escape rooms, reality tv and closed-door restaurants. Use of technology is exciting and original, giving the work an Instagrammable layer of spectacle.

Marketing Selling Points

  • Topical relevance
  • Quality production (reviews, production history)
  • Once in a lifetime experience
  • Activation of a local personality/leader
  • Technology, cuisine and theatre collide

Themes in this work are experienced in an active and accessible way, inviting discussion about the mechanics of democracy through gameplay and allegory. Ideas about cooperation and respectful discourse are significant in today’s political climate. Participants from varied political backgrounds are here encouraged to engage with the challenge of collective decision-making in a playful and neutral context.

What People Are Saying

“Nathan Sibthorpe’s concept and design are obviously brilliant.” Cameron Woodhead, The Age

“”It is all ingenious, intricate and just about flawlessly realised.” Stage Whispers

“Crunch Time has the potential to be a feast for the mouth, however the show is a definite feast for the eyes and ears.” My Melbourne

Recipient of The Lord Mayor’s Award for Best New Australian Work at the 2018 Matilda Awards

Community Engagement

Local Leaders

The show is designed to co-opt locals in leadership positions from the community the venue is home to. It’s an excellent opportunity for local leaders to engage with the arts in their region through direct interaction with ticket holders. There is potential for PR and news stories around the performance to support the leader’s involvement, interest in tickets, and discussion of the themes in the wider community.

Artist Workshops

The touring team is equipped to deliver artist workshops in technical design, transmedia storytelling, and contemporary performance.

Artist Forums

The team may be engaged to host an artist-led forum where the wider community can access the themes in the work through anecdote and demonstration, even if they haven’t seen the show.

About Counterpilot

Counterpilot is a collective of interdisciplinary artists directed by Nathan Sibthorpe and including Mike Willmett (sound designer), Clinton Freeman (software designer), Christine Felmingham (technical designer), and Sarah Winter (production designer).

Together, they create interactive performance works, activating audiences with new technology, rich design, and transmedia storytelling. Counterpilot seeks to transform the familiar, juxtaposing rich fictional worlds against a backdrop of the everyday. By subverting real social circumstances, we co-opt our participants as authentic performers. In this way we are harnessing what we believe to be the most exciting thing about theatre – the live audience. Our works enable participants to observe themselves responding in real ways to hyper-real situations.

In 2017, Spectate was described as “a groundbreaking new production” (Absolute Theatre), and “spectacularly clever on so many levels, in a way probably never seen before” (Blue Curtains Brisbane). The following year, Crunch Time premiered at Next Wave Festival 2018 in Melbourne and went on to receive the Lord Mayor’s Award for Best New Australian Work at the 2018 Matilda Awards.

Counterpilot continues to produce interactive performance works that boldly experiment with new applications of technology. With interactive tools like geo-locative audio, SMS distribution networks, RFID voting systems and biometric sensors, Counterpilot seeks to put the audience at the centre of every performance experience – whether it be for physical journeys, experiential narrative, or heightened gameplay.