What money can’t buy or decadent art?
In a Guardian article in 2011, Charlotte Higgins writes about an Edinburgh Fringe where there were an unusual number of one-to-one shows. She asked the playwright David Greig what he thought, to which he suggested that it was ‘decadent’. It is, he argued, a resource-heavy theatre that makes its experiences available to the few rather than the many. // SEED came about because I’d recently done a number of online one-to-one performances; before this I hadn’t experienced one. None of these was expensive, all were incredibly simple (including one where I ‘built’ a city out of the objects around me), and they were produced by an independent company.
It’s true that there will have only been a limited number of people who experienced these shows, even though they were performed several times a day, and in the case of // SEED, there are only 12 participants, however, those that do take part experience a piece which is unique to them, and unlike most other performances.
This kind of one-to-one performance is one end of a scale, where the other end might be for example, a rock concert with attendees in the hundreds of thousands. Both have their pros and cons, but both are vital for the way that they push at the boundaries of live performance.
Value is something that can’t always be measured in financial terms, while it might be more economically viable for a producer to create a show that can reach people in the order of hundreds, as anyone in marketing will tell you, it’s not always about reach, but also engagement. If you can create something of lasting significance for one person over a less impressionable experience for 100, how do you measure value?