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The Best of Both Worlds

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Leo Burtin & Ali Matthews

The Best of Both Worlds is a work-in-progress performance: part cabaret, part lecture, and part participatory experiment. It is being developed at ARC Stockton, East Streets Arts (Leeds), and the University of Salford (Manchester). It is supported with lottery funding from Arts Council England.

Informed by our backgrounds as expatriates, the piece takes as its starting point the perceived and real differences between the socioeconomic models in France and the USA, and how the UK seemingly meets in the middle. We are currently in the R&D phase of the project thanks to funding from ACE. We’re investigating the performativity of street market trading (including busking), barter, ‘pay what you decide’ approaches, time banking, and out-sourcing.

In making this performance, we wish to playfully utilise and disrupt these elements, in the hope of leaving audiences with new perspectives on what they value, and how they value it.

Using the archetypes of the 1930s French street singer and the 1950s American door-to-door salesman, this work-in-progress will blend poetic text, data, song, recorded interviews. In addition, we will conduct live experiments with our audience, who will be invited to pay for extras, become professionally-paid performers for 5 minutes, and participate as shareholders in our show.

The sum total of these parts will be a contemporary spin on a good old-fashioned working-class café-concert.