Revolution Now!

Gob Squad
Institute of Contemporary Arts

Publicity photo

Hey you! The people! Listen up! This is a revolution, and in the absence of any clearly defined goals for change, this is our manifesto:

1. The revolution will be televised
Clichés out of the way first. This is a multimedia revolution. Cameras both handheld and static relay images between revolutionary HQ, in the ICA theatre, and the outside world of the Mall.

We in the auditorium may feel neglected when our leaders, the ragtag Gob Squad, turn their backs on us to address the cameras and the outside world, but we may be comforted by the sight of ourselves on the screen, as the Mall sees us, behind our leaders both literally and figuratively (and if we aren't comforted, tough; this is the way the majority of the revolution will be played).

2. The revolution is participation
The revolution cannot succeed if no one is willing to stand up, to shake hands and chat with their neighbour, to lie on stage representing a corpse or to recite poetry on camera to whoever on the Mall might be listening.

3. The revolution is ambitious
Others before us have challenged themselves to elicit willing participation from the audience, who've chosen - even paid! - to attend, and who presumably have some inkling at least of what might be asked of them. Having achieved this trifle in the first ten minutes, this revolution is not afraid to dream bigger.

The ultimate prize: willing participation from a random passer-by on the Mall. Someone removed from the burgeoning community spirit in revolutionary HQ. Someone who sees, not a revolution, not even a piece of theatre, but a chugger in epaulettes.

4. The revolution does not recognise the possibility of failure
Some will interpret twenty fruitless minutes failing to persuade passers-by to forsake their trains and buses for the sake of revolution - twenty minutes culminating in the impromptu recruitment of playwright Tim Crouch from the ICA bar, to stand in for the People - as the failure of the revolution. But to implement a contingency plan or exit strategy would be to countenance failure, and that would run counter to the spirit of the revolution.

5. The revolution is perception - of yourself, your peers, your context and community
Those of us who were there will likely say that whatever failure occurred was on the part of the People, not of the revolution. The People are hostile, the People are suspicious, the People are closed off, unwilling to give anything of themselves.

But the People are also eloquent, politically savvy, friendly and socially responsible; all those contrasting things in the space of twenty minutes at one spot on the Mall. Just because the People won't come inside and wave the flag doesn't mean the People aren't revolutionary.

Until 26 June

Reviewer: Matt Boothman

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