Stealing lives for art

You’d better watch out because I’m going to steal your life. I’m going to copy your identity, your troubling life story you were telling me all about and that little quirky thing you do and I’m going to transpose them all a little then put them on stage/film/television. I aim to be a professional life stealer and I’m wondering how people feel about that?

Seriously, artists are really great thieves – we’re very good at sitting back and absorbing life, which means eavesdropping and then using your conversation in our work. In directing and writing work I steal from life all the time, which I think is what you’re supposed to do – art being a representation of life (or is it vice versa?) and all that. When you think about it at its basest level though it is pretty much stealing from the lives people are living all around you, and stealing is wrong isn’t it?

Quite clearly there is a line, an invisible boundary between what you can steal and what you can’t. What you can’t is possibly something like that big upsetting family secret you swore to never tell anyone – but that is a really great story that can definitely be expanded and extrapolated to relate to the current state of wider society and keep people gripped to their televisions…hmm. Where does the thievery stop? How much of life gets recycled again and again through art, so that nothing really gets laid to rest?

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