Monday, 18 May 2009

PREVIEW: The Cutting Room Experiement

Published: MANCHESTER CONFIDENTIAL, May 18th 2009.
"Dream yourself crazy: Thalia Allington-Wood previews The Cutting Room Experiment on 20 June. Will it really be ‘the biggest audience generated event in the world’?"

Selling itself as ‘the biggest audience generated event in the world’, The Cutting Room Experiment promises and aims to deliver much. Organised from their website ( ), Cutting Room proposes twelve outdoor events/performances to fill their new public space in Ancoats – this is a handsome, monolith dominated square designed by Dan Dubowitz next to St Peter’s Church.

The idea is simple. You, the public, propose events. You, the public, vote on which proposals you think are best. You, the public, gather in hopefully large numbers and perform the 12 events you have chosen. There are very little restrictions and you are free to do something as silly or poignant as you wish. The events must involve mass participation. As Cutting Room state ‘think about a collection of people in a space, at one time, all doing something together. That's what the Cutting Room Experiment is all about’. Sounds fun.

The suggestions so far, hint at our desire to revert to good old childlike play. The most popular events include Space-hoppers, creating a huge brightly coloured ball-pool, (like indoor adventure playgrounds for under 7’s), and the world’s biggest game of ‘Twister’, and why not? I used to love my Space-hopper. I just hope someone suggests party bags and sandcastles to make the day complete.

If there is one qualm with Cutting Room’s ‘user generated event’: it’s the affiliation to ‘Flash Mobs’.

One of the most entertaining and crucial aspects of ‘Flash Mob’ events is the creation of chaos. Often performed in large and very busy public spaces - train stations, shopping malls, busy roads – they are organised like secret operations, and executed as such. They occur for a few minutes, suspending the daily routine. Then the participants disappear as if nothing had happened. They serve to highlight the monotony of everyday life and provoke response through fun and preposterous antics shrouded in mystery.

To have 12 of these events in a single day, all in the same designated space, seems to dilute the fun, mischief and surprise ‘Flash Mobs’ achieve.

But maybe I’m being churlish.

Overall the ‘Cutting Room Experiment’ (and it does use that word Experiment) is going to be bloody good fun. Its success depends entirely upon people becoming involved and participating on the day. 200 people doing the dance routine to Michel Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ would be visually arresting, 2 people doing so would not.

Ultimately The Cutting Room Experiment is offering a day of public art, made, performed, and chosen by the public. So let’s get people staring, dancing, laughing and looking gobsmacked on the streets of Manchester.

If you have an idea that you might want to turn into a Cutting Room spectacular then you need to get it in by 29 May. You can do this by posting it on


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