Exploring the psychology of gambling - Chichester Fringe

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The psychology of gambling is dissected in one of four brand-new shows comprising New Theatre Night on Friday, May 31 at 7.30pm at One-o-Four, 104 The Hornet, Chichester, PO19 7JR as part of this year’s Chichester Fringe.

Still Game by Battle-based Steven Finley tells of a gambling addict who learns to face his demons through the help of an unexpected friend. Also included in the night is The Fountain of Youth by Jack Stone which offers a performance that “absolutely does not address adult views on childhood. Definitely not”; A Deceit of Dying Flowers by Kitchen Sink Productions which comes promised as “a gritty and cutting drama about love, lust and the consequences of control in a relationship.”; and Upsurge by Emma True, a spoken word physical theatre piece, exploring one woman's place in the world.

Steven is delighted to be taking part: “I saw a call out in a company newsletter and that they were looking for submissions for the Chichester Fringe. And that the whole Fringe was taking on new artists and subsidising their fee at the Fringe which is just amazing for young artists that have a solo show and are looking for a producer to help them. I plugged my show and sent my details in and I was hoping for a full run in the Fringe but they put me forward for their new writing night probably because it's just a half-hour show.

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“It's a one-man show about a gambling addict and it is semi-autobiographical. I play myself and discuss my gambling. Basically it’s the cost benefit analysis that we humans do every day. I take addiction back to its pure form. I semi had a gambling problem. It was a way for my friends and me to connect. Some people play football but with my friends we would meet up online and have a chat and then play some online poker and that developed into trying to beat them and then trying to beat other people. I was attracted to a website that was putting out small very quick games almost just like slot machines and it was pure luck. There was a small amount of pleasure. There was something that kept me coming back to it, the constant hope that you're going to win. That kept me playing but one night after I spent quite a sum of money, I had an epiphany and I realised that this was turning into a bit of a problem and that I should stop while I was ahead. It wasn't my own money. It was a credit card that I was topping up. I consciously don't play poker now. I know that I'm not good enough and there is no point in me investing time and money in it. I would just be letting myself down.”

Steven Finley (contributed pic)Steven Finley (contributed pic)
Steven Finley (contributed pic)

The trouble is that gambling has become normalised now in the way that smoking did and in the way that drinking has for Steven, he says: “And I wanted to try to reflect on the process, about how the human memory impacts people that gamble. I used it as a research tool, this show, for a Masters that I did at Birmingham in 2023. I just wanted to figure whether there was a neurological and performative basis for gambling and also what that feeling is that you get when you know you're either about to win or lose, how that feeling involves memory as well as physical stillness… it's a moment of performance when you are not sure what is going to happen next.”

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