On the 7th November 2008, the Unicorn Theatre hosted the third version of ‘Who Wants to Be…?’, the dangerously spontaneous, democratic game show where we ‘asked the audience’ of 170 people to come up with ideas and then vote on what to do with the £1700 of box office takings.
Previously on ‘Who Wants to Be’, an audience of 100 very nearly voted to sack the host, end the game early and put their £1000 behind the theatre bar. Suggestions included collective ownership of a dog, guerilla gardening in the City of London, and burning the cash there and then. You can read about that here.
Thanks to the preview interview on Radio London, and the London Games Festival Fringe publicity, the Theatre was almost sold out, and the energy in the room was amazing. Previous audiences had adapted the rules, and this time they really worked from the start! The audience immediately began pouring out suggestions:
‘Let’s make a Christmas Single!’
Was an early favourite, and generated many offers of help from the musical and media people in the audience. A cyclist in the audience suggested a bus-based advertising campaign against bendy buses, someone else wanted a bouncy castle, and a surprising number of people were interested in making a Guinness world record attempt for baking the world’s largest crumpet (currently held by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason).
After the break, perhaps inspired by the Space Hijackers’ ‘guerilla benching‘ project, someone suggested that we could install a bench somewhere in London. Someone else proposed it could be dedicated to democracy with a nice brass plaque, possibly listing the names of every audience member. Several ‘voices of reason’ mentioned the possible difficulties of finding a willing London council, but, rallying enthusiasm everyone loved the idea of putting it on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar square.
Finally, after a tense vote-off between the guerilla benchers and the democracy bench, the audience settled on a compromise: we will use the money to commission someone to design and build a bench, then vote on our favourite designs online, and then get this bench installed in a public park in London.
The bench commission call for proposals went online, and soon gathered some fantastic responses. On the 5th April 2009, the winning bench was John Kennedy’s “The Thing“, which we are now working on installing in the wonderful Chumleigh Gardens.
News and updates about the bench installation and build progress will be posted to the ‘artbench’ mailing list. feel free to sign up here.
This version of ‘Who Wants to Be…?’ was part of the London Games Fringe, a festival of alternative gaming events at the end of October 2008, organised by artists, academics, gamers, game developers, educators and creative professionals from a wide range of different media: www.londongamesfringe.com