Of All The People In All The World
(This post is yet another part of the filling-in-the-blanks exercise from my account of the last three months).
I really am becoming a fan of Birmingham Art and Theatre group Stan’s Café. After seeing (and absolutely adoring) their The Cleansing Of Constance Brown in March, I have now (twice) seen and absolutely adored their Of All The People In All The World.
It’s a simple one to describe, but not an easy one to convey the effectiveness of. Essentially, you’re looking at piles of rice. Each grain within these piles represents a human being, and the piles as a whole represent a statistic. Condoleezza Rice (didjaseewhattheydidthere) = one grain. The population if India = a great big bloody enormous hillock of staple cereal. Children dying from diarrhoea every day = a pile far too big. Number of trade union members in the UK = a pile nowhere near big enough.
The topics rice-ified vary pretty widely and were added to throughout the show/installation’s run (I was more than happy to go both the day after it opened on Saturday the 13th of September and the day after it closed on Saturday the 4th of October, knowing there would be a fair few differences), and frequently show a (sometimes very dark) wit in both the statistics selected and how they’re placed next to one another. It’s often funny and even more often affecting on a visceral level, but beyond that… although it feels cheap to say that “it makes you think” and/or “it gives you new perspective on these things”, it really does. Providing not only a visual representation of numbers that are generally hard to conceive but also immediate visual comparisons really does have its effect. I think it also spoke pretty strongly about how it’s easy to trivialise very important things. It’s so easy to reduce actual people to grains of rice, but at the same time so easy to feel more of a reaction to these grains of rice than stories about actual people…
This run in Birmingham has finished, of course, but it seems to be re-staged pretty regularly in a variety of cities (albeit sometimes on a smaller scale than this version of it). You’re a fool if you don’t go and see it, you really are.
(Internet voodoo ensures that everything tagged ‘thericeshow’ will turn up here sooner or later. Maybe).