Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Mark Thomas - 100 minor acts of dissent at Newbury 12th July

I love Mark Thomas. And it seems that it’s a mutual thing as he appears to love Newbury too. Why else would he have chosen the dusty setting (as he discovered when he banged a chair seat for emphasis only to be covered in a cloud of dirt) of New Greenham Arts as the setting for his new show 100 Minor Acts of Dissent?

The show is, much like Thomas himself, driven by acts of bedevilment. From May 2013 to May 2014, he intends to complete 100 minor acts of dissent; simple things that drive progress forward and make the UK a better place to live. As we were among the first crowds to see it, it did mean that he'd only completed a handful. Probably worth seeing the show again later in the project.

The show was created after Mark's father, the subject of the touching, but still hilarious Bravo Figaro, died. Combined with turning 50, Mark flexed his mayhem muscle by challenging himself to photograph a different police officer every day for a year. Without their permission. This created some laughter, some threats and some face-covering.

The results prompted him to come up with 100 minor acts of dissent. Number one was a service called “We will drive them to the airport”. Who has screwed the economy up more than bankers? And who asked them to?

To answer this problem, Mark Thomas has responded to the bankers’ frequent moans of “if you don’t let us have our bonuses, then we’ll leave!” with this – wewilldrivethemtotheairport.co.uk

a website where you can sign up to volunteer to drive the bankers to the airport.

Other projects include “Pornershop” which is aimed at stopping porn from being sold in cornershops. To do this, he has been buying porn, opening it, exchanging the odd pornstar’s face with that of Margaret Thatcher and carefully placing it back on the shelf. What a shame we’re unlikely to hear how that went by the end user!

How about tax evasion? As Apple pay their tax in Ireland, Mark decided to invite an Irish band to the Apple store to serenade shoppers with some traditional Irish music, while changing all of the iPad screens to show the tax authority’s webpage.

The last one involves two of my favourite things: stickers and books. I have filled my handbag with "bastard trade" stickers depict a banker hitting an African child in the face; the idea is you put them on items such as certain chocolate brands etc that are the direct opposite of the Fairtrade ethic. More fun can be had with the other stickers which are aimed at the big book chains.

I can't recommend this show highly enough - it's your public duty to attend, to laugh and to indulge in taking part in a couple of acts of minor dissent.

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