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David Gagnon Walker

first performed on April 01, 2020
Google Docs / Instagram Live / the artist's home
performed once in 2020


Edmonton, Canada


“Everybody’s Everybody’s Autobiography,” a durational performance for Google Docs and Instagram Live, was an experiment in participatory writing. It was commissioned and presented by Verb Theatre in Calgary, Alberta.

For 24 hours, I worked across two public Google Docs. The first document, “Works Cited,” could be contributed to anonymously by anyone interested. Sixty-one audience members added text, responding to the prompt: “this is a secret thing I do inside my mind these days.” In the second document, “Everybody’s Everybody’s Autobiography,” I used every response in “Works Cited” as source material for writing a new performance text: a collage of my own words and words by my 61 co-writers. The result was a dramatic poem on loss, isolation, and change, blending my own and the anonymous participants’ surreal feelings of estrangement and our amplified inner lives as we lived through the COVID-19 lockdown. The project was conceived before lockdowns and quarantines disrupted our days, and the coincidence of it happening in the early weeks of Canada’s strict public health measures changed everything about it. Directly or indirectly, many of the anonymous contributions were about living in isolation through this frightening, disorienting time — the performance became about identifying and channeling the intense individual and collective energies of the moment.

At the end of the 24-hour period, I performed the text on Instagram Live, for an audience spread out across North America.

“Everybody’s Everybody’s Autobiography” is part of an ongoing investigation into how audiences and communities can be welcomed into performance work on a core process level, as co-creators and performers. Using commonly understood structures from text-based theatre practice as a point of departure (e.g. a script, a reading, a playwright, an actor, a viewer), I’m interested in crafting experiences in which process/product and artist/audience binaries aren’t so binary, and which invite the public into what I’ve always found most moving about performance: the transformative experience of making it.