Times Square

in and despite the rain

At 5:30 pm on Saturday 23 September 2000, the Surveillance Camera Players (SCP) performed We know you are watching: MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS over and over again in front of the police surveillance camera on 46th Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue in Times Square, New York City. Originally scheduled for Tuesday 19 September 2000 and postponed because of heavy rain, this performance was also marred by bad weather. Only two performers (Susan and Bill) were able to make it, and they restricted their efforts to the performance of a single play, the shortest and simplest in the SCP's repertoire.

The performance would certainly have been canceled outright -- water irreparably damages the hand-printed boards that are at the very heart of every SCP play -- had it not been for the fact that the performance was the very last opportunity for the TV crew from Spain's Nosolomusica to tape the SCP in action; the crew was due to return to Madrid the very next day. (Despite the rain-out on Tuesday, the crew had already interviewed Bill at length in his apartment and had accompanied him on a walking tour of surveillance cameras in the Turtle Bay area of Manhattan.) And so Bill and Susan -- the group's co-founders -- heeded the old show biz call, "The show must go on!"

At first, the two performers -- standing in the spot that the Living Theater often uses as a stage -- presented the play as a duo. But instead of dividing the two-board play between them, Susan raised and lowered the board that proclaims SURVEILLANCE CAMERA PLAYERS, and Bill performed the play itself, which consists of the rapid alternation of two boards, one of which says WE KNOW YOU ARE WATCHING, the other MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS! Despite the play's brutal/comic simplicity and the relatively small number of performers, the duo managed to generate a certain dramatic tension by having Susan point at the camera while Bill performed the play and by having the play frequently punctuated by episodes in which Susan held up her board and Bill pointed at the surveillance camera.

After a few minutes, the duo and the TV crew moved to a spot directly beneath the surveillance camera. Frustrated by the fact that they had no one to give out flyers and talk to people who were interested in the performance, the duo split up. Susan concentrated on handing out flyers and talking to passers-by, and Bill concentrated on raising and lowering the boards. To create as much variation as possible, Bill sped up the alternation between the play's two boards, and frequently interrupted the play to hold aloft the SURVEILLANCE CAMERA PLAYERS board and point to the camera at the same time. This arrangement proved to be the more satisfactory of the two. Despite the rain, people stopped to catch a glimpse of what Bill was doing and talked to Susan, who gave them a flyer. As a result, the pair of performers felt that this was indeed a "real" SCP performance and not simply a photo opportunity. As for the TV crew from Spain, it was able to get the footage it needed to complete its feature.

Contact the Surveillance Camera Players

By e-mail e-mail:notbored@NOSPAMoptonline.net

By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998

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