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Sam Crane

We Are Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

Vidéo | mov | couleur | 9:59 | Royaume-Uni | 2021

What happens when you try to perform Shakespeare inside GTA Online, a game space notorious for its aggression and gratuitous violence? You might expect the other players in your server to respond with heavy weaponry, perhaps a mini SMG, or a compact grenade launcher. And indeed, this is often what happens. Yet occasionally you may come across someone who responds in an entirely unexpected manner. This work radically subverts and appropriates the notoriously violent world of GTA Online and reimagines it as a meditative space for live performance of Shakespeare. It challenges lazy assumptions about video games (that they are simply mindless entertainment or the nadir of violent youth culture) to reveal their inherent artistry and sophistication, and at the same time opens up the snobbish and elitist world of classical theatre to those who are excluded from it due to disability, financial concerns, geographical proximity or lack of familiarity with the theatrical ecosystem. By harnessing the technological capabilities and networked connectivity offered by contemporary video games, it also interrogates the concept of the audience: what it is, how it can be accessed, and how it can interact with live performance.

Sam Crane is an actor and video artist, critically acclaimed for his performances at the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, in The West End and on Broadway. He has collaborated with many of the most celebrated and influential theatre artists in the world including Mark Rylance, Katie Mitchell and Robert Icke in groundbreaking productions including Farinelli and The King, 1984 and ...some trace of her. In the guise of his alter ego Rustic Mascara, he attracted over 50 thousand views in two weeks to his radical attempts to perform Shakespeare inside GTA online and has had his films shown at contemporary art and film festivals worldwide (including London Short Film Festival, Slamdance and Athens Digital Arts Festival). He is also a prolific screen actor and has appeared in many the most loved and successful television shows of recent years including The Crown (Netflix), The Trial of Christine Keeler (BBC), COBRA (Sky), Poldark (BBC), Endeavour (ITV) and Call The Midwife (BBC). He has recently been selected as one of six emerging artistic researchers for Zurich University of the Arts PEERS programme, and was longlisted for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2022