INTERVIEW | Claire Gaydon discusses millennial careers in her piece 'See-Through'.

29 May 2019

A report from The Sun a couple of years ago reported that 75% of children between the ages of 6-17 aspired to be a YouTuber when they are older. The platform has grown excessively since it began in 2005 and now almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every single day. It's no surprise that this platform intrigues people to explore it further and theatre maker Claire Gaydon takes on the challenge of exploring it for her latest piece See-Through

This piece is currently touring (find the dates here) till Spring 2020, with her latest performance on the 31 May at Derby Theatre. Claire is currently in the process of creating a new show with Zest Theatre called 'Youthquake' that'll be touring this Autumn/next Spring too. 

I caught up with Claire to find out more about her piece See-Through and the intriguing process of exploring a popular millennial career/aspiration that fills the minds of young people who are invested in the platform.


Claire, start by telling us about your piece See-Through and what it’s 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 viewers, her videos become more and more confessional and she begins to struggle in defining her own boundaries.

Where did you start with this piece, what drew you into the idea of exploring YouTube and it’s rise to becoming a popular career choice for young people?  How long has it took to create your production?
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 me) recording a YouTube video. The set up was the same as in See-Through, back to the audience and the live footage projected on the back wall. I became really interested in the image and the idea of an audience connecting with me through a screen without seeing my face. I was really struggling with the ideas around the original show I was trying to make (which were very conceptual) and decided to follow my instincts and go with the YouTuber idea. I finished making the show just in time for The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018.

Did you draw on any ‘big’ YouTubers in particular as research for your piece, if so, who and what did you discover about them?
Before 2017 I was pretty much YouTube illiterate. To gain a better insight I ran a workshop with a group of Year 9 in Lincoln. I asked them who their favourite YouTubers were and what they liked/disliked about the platform in general. I would say the most influential YouTubers in the making process were Ollie White, Laci Green and Tana Monteau. Ollie for his fun, family friendly stuff, Laci for her empowering educational stuff and Tana for the uncomfortable confessional stuff.

What is the most challenging aspect of this work? 
It’s different for every YouTuber but in general I think it’s a very stressful job. The workload is intense and the pressure to constantly upload new material means it’s easy to burn out. It’s emotionally draining too. Presenting yourself and your personal life as your work takes its toll. Likewise, I think many people who work at a similar level to me in my industry are struggling too.

What do you hope to achieve from creating this piece of work? Who would you say it is aimed towards as an audience?
The show doesn’t condemn or praise YouTube culture, but it does highlight areas that are problematic. In trying to develop a genuine and authentic connection with her audience ‘Claire’ (a version of me and and our aspiring YouTuber) creates confessional videos. At first they feel empowering, but they quickly digress into something that feels self-exploitative. YouTube’s algorithm favours clickbait and controversial content over anything else so it’s not a surprise that young people are feeling the pressure to create these types of videos. 

In its most literal context See-Through is aimed towards 16-25 years old who are watching or making online content. For older audiences I hope the show offers an empathetic lens to a world that they might not know much about. I would love the show to inspire intergenerational conversations between young people and their parents.

Broadly speaking, I hope all audiences leave thinking about sharing. When we share, regardless of whether it’s a performance or just in conversation with someone, we connect and that is a beautiful thing. But like anything, it falls on a personal spectrum and it’s important that we make we’re the ones setting the boundaries. 


What has creating this piece taught you about YouTube as a career?
I developed a huge amount of respect for the hard work that goes into being a YouTuber. People who take it seriously 100% deserve respect for their craft.

I also discovered strong similarities between YouTubers and solo theatre makers. When I came across the statistic that 34% of young people chose YouTuber as their top career choice, I was pretty shocked. My initial question being ‘why, why do they want to do this?’. As I came across more and more confessional content I started thinking about the desire to connect and and how, as a theatre-maker who uses partly autobiographical material, I totally identify with that too.

What has been the feedback on this production?
I’ve been really pleased with the response! YouTuber Christopher Bingham came to the show at the Fringe and sent a really nice tweet saying that the show had inspired him to make a positive change in his life, so that was really amazing.

What’s next for you with See-Through? Will you be touring the piece or are you creating a new piece of work already?
See-Through is currently touring till Spring 2020. Dates will be on my website when they’re announced. I’m also currently creating a new show with Zest Theatre called ‘Youthquake’ that’ll be touring this Autumn/next Spring too.

And alongside that I’ll be putting a plan of action together for my new show ‘Piece of Me’. This will be my most ambitious show yet so feeling really excited/terrified(!)

You can catch See-Through at Derby Theatre on 31 May. Book your tickets here.

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