Theatre for Surveillance

actors protest against cameras

MANNHEIM (lsw). On Monday, an unusual theatre group from New York hit Mannheim: the Surveillance Camera Players (SCP), who perform theatre pieces for police and security guards watching public surveillance cameras.

They protest against video surveillance, "because it violates our privacy rights," as the group, which was founded in 1996, explains on their website.

In Mannheim, there have been surveillance cameras in the city center since autumn of last year. In a "camera walk," the guides in the SCP showed the citizens of Mannheim where the cameras hang and how to use them to create theatrical stages. "It isn't true that only those who have something to hide are opposed to surveillance," the actors say.

For their purposes, they have adapted socially critical theatre pieces such as Animal Farm. The actors hold signs containing texts up to the cameras and wear masks to make their meaning clear.

The plays last only a few minutes. Some placards have on them provocative texts, such as "You are being watched for your own safety" and "Cops will shoot pictures like cops shoot guns."

There are also similar groups in Italy and Sweden. The New York group encourages others to adopt its form of protest. However, they explicitly distance themselves from every form of violence and extremism.

(Author unknown. Published in the 21 May 2002 edition of Die Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung. Translated from the German by Bill Brown.)

Contact the NY Surveillance Camera Players

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

NY Surveillance Camera Players