"Real Life Top 10"

Greil Marcus

Salon 3 April 2000

#7. Surveillance Camera Players "1984" on "Surveillance Camera Players" ($15 cash only, to Not Bored!, POB 1115, New York, NY 10009-9998)

This small troupe stages plays in front of surveillance cameras, often in subways, then films the action off public monitor screens. Here, with four actors, eight minutes (out of a 45-minute video) and a pidgin comic-book script (signs held up by a man in a grinning death's-head mask, I.D. placards around the necks of Winston and Julia), the story comes across: Because it's so familiar a few slogans and the right setting can call the whole thing back, especially when weird organ-like music is leaking in from another corridor, people pass by the show as if it's invisible, and the primitivism of the dramaturgy reduces Orwell's prophecy to the scale of litter. "WE ARE THE DEAD" reads the lovers' sign; Death's Head holds up the novus ordo seclorum Masonic pyramid from the dollar bill. "Can I ask you what you're doing here?" says a man with a security guard's menacing politeness. "Taping this," says a woman. "Do you have a permit for this?" Death's Head holds up "ROOM 101." "You don't need a permit to do this," the woman says. "You don't?" "Why are you guys doing this?" says a second man. "To show that surveillance cameras are everywhere," says the woman. "Yeah," the man laughs, "but who doesn't know that?" Death's Head shoots Winston in the head; from somewhere, there's applause.

Contact the Surveillance Camera Players

By e-mail Info@notbored.org

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

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