The Cassandra Complex

Cassandra @ Port Elliot Festival, July 2016

Cassandra is an autonomous, interactive fortune telling machine.

She was inspired by a beguiling encounter I had with the Morgana Machine on a holiday camp in the late 1970s. I’d been mesmerised by this mysterious electronic fortune teller for many years. I longed to see her again.

I came to the point in my life when I had the knowledge, experience, skills, contacts and resources to realise a modern version of the Morgana machine. It took a more than a year to get her together, and the tight deadline of her appearance at a festival, to finally pull her into reality.

Morgana Fortune Telling Machine
Morgana Fortune Telling Machine by Baccus Games Inc. (circa 1979)

The version we build (you can see who was involved at the bottom of this page) was meant to be a prototype. But she worked much better than we had envisaged. In fact she suprised us all, even though we know intimately how she works. There is something magical about her. And we all need a little more magic in our lives.


Cassandra is a thought experiment in physical form. She responds to individual visitors, giving each a unique reading. The work comes alive in the stories people tell after they have had an encounter with her. Synchronicitys, mysteries, prophecies and deep secrets are revealed. Occasionally people cite things that simply aren’t in her canon. And it is here that the experiment that she is, revealed. We begin to glimpse how much our lived reality is, in fact, a project of mind.As Anais Nin said, we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Of course, we never point this out to the people who meet her. When people ask how she works, or occasionally volunteer and explanation, we just say Yes., perhaps thats true. Because this also is an example of the mind reaching outwards, trying to make sense of the world when faced with incomplete data. Its just what humans do.

So this leaves us in the space of how are beliefs are constructed. How and Why do we choose to believe this and not that? In particular, why are some of us drawn to belief in divination and other forms of foresight? Is the unknown and unknowable so hard to bear? To whom do we give authority to to tell us what to believe? These are questions for the times we find ourselves in.

Close up of Cassandra
Bido Lito review from Cassandra’s first outing at Threshold Festival in 2016

Cassandra is a work of participatory theatre, and it took the following team to bring her into be-ing:

Production Team

Jen Allanson – Chief Wrangler. R & D. Script development. Stage, Set & Props. 

Simon Lock – Chief Technical Wizard. Invention. Gadgetry. Installation. Performance

Lesley Peate – Assistant Technical Wizard. Stage, Set & Props. Installation 

David Allanson – Assistant Wrangler Research. Installation. Logistics

Jane MacNeil – Videographer. Documentary photography. Social Media

Mary Pearson – Actress. Performance & Improvisation

Frank Moore – Cabinet Builder 

Ken Bullock – Sign Writer 

Jacqui Lovgreen – Witch Eclectic. Inspirational conversations. Stage, Set and Props.

Pat Shea-Halson – Guide. Coach and Mentor

Previous Appearances

Threshold Festival, Liverpool. April 02016

Biennial Fringe, Liverpool. July 02016

Port Eliot Festival, Cornwall. July 02016

A black and white image of the fortune telling machine
The Cassandra Complex (flier form Biennial Fringe)