"What will unfold is not be a “proper play”, but a 'performance-lecture'."
This introductory disclaimer was British artiste Daniel Bye’s greeting to his audience at his solo show The Price of Everything, which ran at the PETA (Philippine Educational Theatre Association) on 10 July 2014 and at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) on 12 July 2014. Written and performed by Bye, the “performance-lecture” was an hour of exploring the notion of value, amid impassioned rants, jokes and stories.
Bye began with anecdotes and fun, ill-at-ease facts. He explained how when one poured a third of a pint of milk, the average price of the resulting liquid was equivalent to the amount paid by the British taxpayer towards the arts. He also told of havingmade a fortune from selling an air guitar, among many other imaginary things, on eBay. While speaking, Bye poured each in the audience a glass of milk.
The milk was the marrow of the show.
More than something tangible for the artiste to support his anecdotes and fact-telling, it also served as a metaphor for the state of humanity. To Bye, all individuals could be symbolised in a glass of milk as a commodity, rather than as a source of nourishment.
In the second part of the show, Bye turned from lecturer to story-teller, recalling the events that led to his pandering on The Price of Everything. In concluding his “performance-lecture”, Bye encouraged the audience to buy a stranger a gift, with only value a consideration, not price.
The Price of Everything is indeed not a “proper play”. Because in it Daniel Bye laid out the setting, cast, and premise for a new drama, and had invited all to play a part in it — as no longer a commodity, but as a form of nourishment.