Here's Looking at You

A tall man raises a homemade placard that asks "Who am I?" to a surveillance camera on a New York City subway platform. His message: you are being watched. He is one of an anonymous troupe that performs brief, silent skits from original texts and unauthorized adaptations of works by George Orwell, Samuel Beckett, and Edgar Allan Poe, all commenting on the lack of privacy in a modern and monitored world.

When they first began performing in 1996, the Surveillance Camera Players focused on the audience of police officers and guards who watched the camera footage. Now, they engage passersby with their vivid, often humorous street performances. The Players post philosophical statements and sample scripts at They also lead free walking tours and point out surveillance cameras in such areas of New York City as Times Square, Greenwich Village, and Chinatown. Their book, We Know You Are Watching: Surveillance Camera Players, 1996-2006, was published in October, and they are at work on a play to celebrate Human Rights Day and the group's 10th anniversary; it will debut this December.

(Written by Sandra Beasley, and published in the Winter 2007, Vol. 76, No. 1, edition of The American Scholar.

Contact the New York Surveillance Camera Players

By e-mail

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