Money talks

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Sara Juli explores money in her unique performance piece ‘The Money Conversation’

Juli performs onstage with thousands of dollars of her own life savings in cash. (Photo by Rachelle Roberts)

Even the most veteran of theater-goers probably has not ever seen a show quite like Sara Juli’s “The Money Conversation.” The show’s creator, Sara Juli, is a dancer and choreographer who has invested not only her time and talent into the performance, but also her savings. The show examines one’s relationship with money by directly giving the audience some difficult choices.

“I bring $5,000 in cash on stage and, during the course of the show, give out the cash to different audience members. Some people receive $20, some $50, some $300, some lots more. Once the performance is over, I leave, and people who have received money must decide what to do it,” said Juli. “They can return it, or they can keep it and no one will stop them. They just need to be aware if they do take the money, they are taking from my life savings. The choice is up to each person. It creates an interesting tension that becomes part of the performance.”

Juli, a resident of New York City, first performed “The Money Conversation” in 2006. (Photo by Rachelle Roberts)

Juli’s work may seem as if it stemmed from the recent economic downturn, but in fact, it stemmed from a time in her life when she was facing marriage.

“I created the piece five years ago, before the economy totally tanked, as a way to personally reassess my relationship to money, but the declined economy of recent years just makes the piece all the more relevant. (This piece) reminds us we all have a pretty messed up relationship with money. We have work to do when it comes to understanding the value of money and how we can approach it from a healthier standpoint.”

By introducing cash into the performance, Juli has taken the conversation from the hypothetical to the real.

“Performing and touring this piece as much as I have is a constant reminder of the power of money. It brings out the best and the worst in people, and I love that about the show. People do and say strange things during the show. People judge me as a person as a way to justify their behavior. I hear things like, ‘I need the money more than she does,’” said Juli.“Some people take the money. What do they do with it? Do they go buy a pair of $300 shoes? Do they put it in their bank account? Pay it forward? How people respond to the show is almost more interesting than the show itself.”

  • WHAT: “Sara Juli’s The Money Conversation”
  • WHEN: Saturday, 8 p.m.
  • WHERE: The Studio Theater (355 City Center Dr., Carmel)
  • COST: $38
  • INFO: Visit thecenterfortheperformingarts.com
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