Belief and bias

Confirmation is the title of a brilliant play we saw last week at Teatro Litta. We received the invitation from a friend we made through our boutique, and it seemed something different.

“If we only try to confirm the things we think we know, then there is a whole sphere of possibility that we will never allow ourselves to know.” The sentence on the invitation was so intriguing.

The play was written by Chris Thorpe in collaboration with Rachel Chavkin and translated into Italian by Jacopo Gassman. Directed by Claudio Autelli and played by Woody Neri.

In shaping an intersection between solo and conference show, Thorpe set off an exploration to understand how we build our beliefs.

The text develops around a series of research on confirmation bias. In short, we tend to form our ideas, mental schemes, and relationships starting from prejudice – the confirmation bias.

Undertaking a dialogue with the public, the performer prompts us to find a link on a short sequence of numbers. That is to explain how easily we tend to find confirmation of something we already know. Then, the investigation evolves in a conversation with a far-right extremist aiming to find common ground.

“We could have similar tastes. For different reasons, we could both prefer the same local bar rather than supporting capitalism and big chains.”

The performer piques opposing political sides, and on this point, it’s obvious that a thoughtful interaction among the parts is crucial. But, when he enters into the dialogue with an extremist who is a racist, white-suprematist and holocaust denier, we have to admit that it gets complicated.

The conversation is both real and imaginary, and it pushes those who have liberal ideas to the limits keeping the audience on the hook.
Indeed, more than an hour and a half passed like a bolt, mind-blowing. We couldn’t believe it was already over.

See the show, read the book.
This challenge to our beliefs is a good exercise for our contemporary time.