bad machine

17 – 19 March 2022 
Please note: This performance will be held at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.

Thursday 17 March – 11.00am school show & matinee + Q&A 
Thursday 17 March – 7.30pm *
tactile tour at 7pm and accessible show – Auslan & Audio description.  
Friday 18 March – 7.30pm Opening Night
Saturday 19 March – 2.00pm & 7.30pm Closing Night 

Running time: 75 mins

View the Program

As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, we must ask ourselves crucial questions about what kind of society we all want to live in. bad machine prompts audiences to interrogate the idea of culpability, the standards to which we hold our leaders and what is at stake when we forgo compassion.  

bad machine is a powerful and provocative new play exploring the Robodebt crisis and its impact on vulnerable Australians in Western Sydney and beyond. Orchestrated by the Australian Federal Government, Robodebt saw some of the most vulnerable members of society targeted using artificial intelligence through an automated audit system with devastating results. Described as “extortion” by the longest-serving member of Australia’s government review tribunal*, the program issued over 400,000 computer-generated debt notices demanding payment from Centrelink users, many of whom did not owe the government money. Notices issued by debt-collectors and letters from the Australian Federal Police included threats of jail if payments were not honoured.   

bad machine humanises this disturbing initiative and is a representation of the voiceless masses affected through the lens of four people, starring Rob Johnson, Abbie-lee, George Spartels and Gail Knight. Born and raised in Western Sydney, playwright Brooke Robinson and director Lily Balatincz are proud to be presenting the first performance work to explore this social welfare crisis, holding a black mirror to this dark chapter in our recent political history and confronting audiences with the far-reaching consequences of this national tragedy. 

*Terry Carney, former member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, June 2019. 

Creative Team
Playwright: Brooke Robinson 
Director: Lily Balatincz 
Oliver/Ensemble: Rob Johnson
Eve/Ensemble: Abbie-lee Lewis
May/Ensemble: Gail Knight
Theo/Ensemble: George Spartels
Max’s voice: Damon Herriman
Sound Designer: Robbie Balatincz
Composers: Robbie Balatincz and Kirin J Callinan
Lighting and Video Designer: Aron Murray 
Set/Costume Designer: Emma White 
Directing Mentor: Imara Savage 
Audio Consultant: Peter Lenaerts
Stage Manager: Victoria Lewis 
Assistant Stage Manager: Cindy Cavero 
Creative Producer: Anthea Doropoulos 

Content warning: This work explores topics of debt collection, experiences of depression and anxiety, challenges to mental health, and contains a non-graphic depiction of suicide. 
If you need support, please call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

Dine and Discover vouchers: To redeem your Dine and Discover voucher for this performance, please call Box Office on 4645 4100.

bad machine is commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre and co-presented by Campbelltown Arts Centre and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.