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PIECE OF ME

Creator and Performer Claire Gaydon

Actor/devisers Yaz Zadeh & Alex Roberts

Director Nel Crouch

Choreographers Seke Chimutengwende & Olivia Shouler

Composer James Jacob

Video Artist Joseph Brett

Technical Designer Jason Crouch

Outside Eye Caroline Horton

Producer Phoebe Wall-Palmer

Previous R&D with:

Dancers Shannon Peberdy & Jasmine Kent

Dancers Carly Blackburn & Simeon John-Wake

Choreographer Amy O'Sullivan

Piece of Me began development as part of Camden People's Theatre's artist development scheme Starting Blocks before being developed further through The Barbican Open Lab programme. The project is currently supported by Camden People's Theatre and Arts Council England.

Artists note from Barbican work-in-progress showing:

I’ve always been a Britney fan. I use ‘Piece of Me’ in my current show, See-Through and I was thinking about those lyrics a lot towards the end of 2018:

I'm Miss American Dream since I was seventeen
Don't matter if I step on the scene
Or sneak away to the Philippines
They still gon' put pictures of my derriere in the magazine
You want a piece of me?

Britney didn’t write this song. Did she feel as though she was expressing herself through these lyrics? Or was this just a new direction for the narrative constructed for her by others? Through the paparazzi, the media, and her own management, experiences of surveillance and control have long played huge factors in Britney’s life and it’s unclear as to how much freedom she has even now.

At the beginning of 2019, I started thinking about celebrity, surveillance and privacy more generally. So I conducted a social experiment: I requested the videos of my own image from a selection of government and private CCTV cameras near my flat in East London. This search led me to discover not only that the majority of institutions handling our data were not adhering to the laws in place to protect it, but eventually I would discover the laws themselves didn’t go nearly far enough. In time I became concerned that without proper legislation, these rights of privacy, anonymity, and freedom that we take for granted could become a thing of the past, a mere relic of the 20th century.

I started to draw parallels between Britney’s well-known privacy invasion, its effects on her, and our own daily privacy invasions that largely go unnoticed. I wanted to explore using her story to ask the question - if aggressive surveillance continues and we continue to treat it as ordinary, what will the psychological effects be on us?