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How to Live

Bobby Baker live production

75 minutes

First performance at Barbican Theatre, London and toured to multiple venues thereafter

How to Live was the launch of Bobby Baker’s own ‘therapy empire’; a critique of the mental health system, borne out of the artist’s frustration with the implicit power of the therapeutic industries, largely generated in the US. The launch took the form of an illustrated performative lecture on Baker’s new ‘therapy’ and the teaching of an 11-step skills training programme. Baker’s patient – a tiny garden pea – helped demonstrate, stage by stage, the efficacy of the treatment – ultimately gaining exceptional wisdom and power. The performance culminated in a feat of engineering where 2000 peas, suspended on wires, descended into the auditorium to dance a celebratory Mexican wave. 

Post-show discussions during the tour featured journalist Jon Snow, historian Roy Foster, the Academic Chair of Primary Care at Sussex Medical School.

Venues included:

Gardner Arts Centre, Brighton; Oxford Playhouse and ICIA Arts Theatre; University of Bath; Norwich Playhouse as part of Norwich and Norfolk Festival; Warwick Arts Centre as part of Fierce Festival; Nuffield Lancaster; Clean Break; Horsebridge Arts Centre, Whitstable; Wellcome Trust Mental Health and Art event; Hebden Bridge, Byker and the University of Hull in Scarborough


Artist, performer: Bobby Baker

Performance Assistant: Frank Bock
Performance Direction: Polona Baloh Brown

Consultant: Dr Richard Hallam
Music Composed by: Jocelyn Pook

Music direction: Harvey Brough
Recorded vocals: English Chamber Choir

Film, graphics and website: Deborah May
Production Design: Miranda Melville
Lighting Design: Chahine Yavroyan
Photography: Andrew Whittuck
Lyrics: Clare Allan
Production Director: Steve Wald
Set Construction: Simon York, Miraculous Engineering
Costumes: Chris Winter and Daria Gibson
Make up: Stephanie Lamb
Production Assistant: Rachel Snider

How to Live was funded by Wellcome and Arts Council England

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