In a world where we’re able to have our say on everything from who our next chart-topping stars should be to who’ll supply our tabloid fodder for the foreseeable five minutes of fame, it’s perhaps unsurprising that London’s cultural scene is also picking up on the participation trend.
What is surprising is the large number of different London events scheduled over this summer where you, traditionally the passive figure in the audience, are required to take a key part in making that event happen.
Participation, collaboration, perhaps the spirit of communitarianism (?I only recently learnt about the latter hearing about Michael Sandel’s Reith Lectures) is flowing through London’s events calendar this summer.
Whatever the event, it seems, you’re invited to take part.
But surely not in these numbers.
Ordinarily, you wouldn’t be offered the chance to decorate a new shopping centre in the name of art. But the al fresco art studio at One New Change has altered that. Until tomorrow, you can see what London mural artist Richard Tait, and 100s of members of the public created to decorate the hoardings near the new shops. With Peter Newman’s new circular sculpture Skystation, you’re required to relax in the installation, look up and take photos of the sky above. Adding your pictures to the collaborative website brings this art project to life.
Once upon a time, you’d go to a club and, aside from a lucky Madonna-esque “Hey Mr DJ, put a record on” request, you couldn’t be sure you’d have any say about the night’s playlist. Bring&Share DJs, who are taking over the Green Room at the National Theatre as part of Watch This Space until 29 August, have changed that. Here’s a DIY disco where you set the playlist. They request you
“Arrive armed with your favourite records, CDs and MP3s and help create this unashamedly unpredictable music policy.”
Smirnoff’s UR the Night have gone one further. In order to get tickets to their collaborative club night at Matter, you have to take part. Hit their facebook page and have your say on everything from which drinks are behind the bar to what the DJs play, and you’ll be rewarded with a pass to get in.
Theatre, too, is asking you to get more involved than ever, with collaborative shows coming up over the summer from in South East London (a promenade theatre production of the Odyssey, suggested by and voted for by members of the public), or if you prefer, as part of LIFT. Taking place in Barking and Dagenham, the LIFT Molten Festival has such a wide range of chances for you to get involved, we can’t possibly list them all here.
Just know we’re excited about Classy-oke at the end of August: karaoke with a live 50-piece orchestra. Oh my.
Of course, if all the above seem a little to restrictive, why not find one of the City of London Festival’s Street Pianos for the ultimate in free-form audience participation?
And we’re wondering if you’re about to go and see something more traditional in London this summer, an art exhibition where you’re just encouraged to go round and look at someone else’s art, or a performance where you’re expected to sit quietly until the end, then take part in a little polite clapping… and if you are, do you feel like you’ve been short changed in this new collaborative, participatory London?