Claire Gaydon’s See Through was voted by Time Out as one of the top 10 weirdest shows at Edinburgh Fringe.
The one-woman show examines identity, validation and the cost of sharing in the digital age. Quays Life meets Claire ahead of her performance at Waterside Arts Centre to find out more:
What is See-Through about?
See-Through follows the journey of a 29-year-old, out of work actor who tries to become a YouTuber. She’s the archetypal millennial who was told she could do and be whatever she wanted and is now feeling like a failure. We see her experiment with making different types of videos in order to gain views and subscribers and we see the reactions she gets from her online audience. As she breaks down more and more barriers between her and her online audience, and her videos become more and more confessional, she begins to struggle in defining her own boundaries.
What inspired you to write the show?
It began in March 2017. I was actually trying to make a show about something else at the time. I devised a scene with a teenage girl (basically a teenage version of myself) recording a YouTube video. The visual set up was the same as See-Through, my back to the audience and the live footage projected on the back wall. I liked the image and the idea of an audience connecting with me through a screen instead of face-to-face.
How did you research it?
I figured the best way to research the topic was to actually make a channel and have a go (and that’s how the show began). Once I had come so far with that understanding I reached out to YouTubers and Instagrammers so I could see the platform from other perspectives.
What was the most surprising thing you found out?
Initially, it was the 2017 survey statistic that 34% of young people chose YouTuber as their top career choice. But probably the most surprising thing for me was the realisation that I also identified with that group!
We could only find 4 videos on your YouTube channel – what happened to the others?
How much of See-Through is fact and fiction is purposefully ambiguous. You’ll see in the show that I did make videos but how many or whether any at all were uploaded is unclear. Creatively, the intention behind this is to highlight our expectation of authenticity, practically it is also so I’m able to tell the story I want to tell. So, even though some of it may be autobiographical, it’s not an autobiographical show.
Why did you choose to perform with your back to the audience?
I wanted to explore empathy. Watching someone through a screen is a completely different experience to seeing someone face-to-face in the flesh. I wanted to mimic the way we interact with YouTubers online.
How has that been for you as a performer? How does it affect your response to the audience?
It was really weird at first but now I’m used to it. I still feel very connected to the audience but in a much subtler way. There’s some audience interaction in the show too, so I get to play in those moments, which is really fun.
The recurring themes in your work are new technologies, social media and sex – what fascinates you about these three areas in terms of storytelling/performance?
New technologies is a term I use for anything that’s currently being developed but has not reached significant potential yet. Things such as AI, VR, anti-ageing therapies, Cryonics etc. I can’t explain why I find these things fascinating, I guess they excite and terrify me at the same time. I find social media incredibly interesting because it’s all about fulfilling a need to be close to one another. It succeeds and fails in equal measure in my opinion. And I find that sex drives everything. To deny that in my work would feel like really missing the point.
Which social media platform could you not live without?
I could happily live without all of them (laughs).
Are there any social media platforms you’d happily see disappear and why?
I don’t mind them. I don’t think any of them are inherently ‘bad’, but they can exacerbate insecurities and suffering that is already present for sure. I think the key is just being aware of how you use them and the impact they are having on you.