What is Playing Up?

PLAYING UP is an artwork by Sibylle Peters and Theatre of Research, exploring the potential of Live Art to bridge generations. Drawing on key Live Art themes and seminal works, PLAYING UP takes the form of a game played by adults and kids together.

On this website you will find project information, notes on how to play, and announcements, as well as documentary material from PLAYING UP events.

PLAYING UP is a collaboration between Theatre of Research, Live Art Development Agency (LADA) and Tate Early Years and Family Programme.

In 2021, the PLAYING UP Gender edition was launched, developed and produced by FUNDUS THEATER I Theatre of Research, in cooperation with the Live Art Development Agency.

Kids are explorers of the everyday. For them to light a match can be something extraordinary that needs focus and time and creates an experience. The same is true for everyone who practices Live Art. For us kids are perfect accomplices. And in return Live Art can provide something that is essential to all of us, but especially to kids and their well being: the acknowledgement of their action and their thinking, the reassurance that everything counts, that everything can make a difference, the frame of beauty and reflection, and the experience that we can set it up anytime and anywhere we want. PLAYING UP is a playful, hands-on introduction to Live Art for everyone.
Sibylle Peters, Theatre of Research

What is Playing Up?

Live Art and Childhood

PLAYING UP is a project not just about art that kids watch, enjoy and learn from, but about art that kids do. It is about what art can do for kids, as well as about what kids do to art.

As a cultural strategy Live Art offers rich possibilities in cross generational work for and with children. Live Art is more a way of thinking and doing than a rigid artistic discipline. Much of its cultural value lies in its experiential and exploratory nature – in its approaches to, and negotiation of, ideas, experiences, and things. This resonates clearly with the characteristics of childhood. This does not only predestine Live Art for children. It also makes children perfect accomplices for practicing Live Art.

Nevertheless, it’s only relatively recently that the potential for children to engage with Live Art has been explored, especially compared to the opportunities offered within art, theatre, music and dance. But there has been a proliferation of new ways of thinking and making that understand the connections between how children explore the world and what Live Art does.

New Dialogue

To acknowledge this new dialogue between children and Live Art the Live Art Development Agency, Theatre of Research and Tate Family and Early Years Programme have joined forces to initiate the PLAYING UP project. We wish to create spaces for this dialogue to flourish through

  • A game, that references 36 pieces from Live Art history and enables teams of kids and adults to practice Live Art on the spot,
  • A public play in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall and
  • A symposium in Tate Modern’s Starr Auditorium bringing together artists in Live Art and pioneers in the field

We recognise that the challenge in creating art for children is that in devising the frameworks that support their engagement, unchallenged preconceptions about children and their capacities often inform the design of the work, and ironically, limit the very engagement it aspires to open up.

Therefore, we would like to share Live Art approaches, which construct accessible, and carefully considered frameworks for kids, whilst remaining open to all kinds of possibilities, no matter how difficult or challenging.

Recent Shifts

We want to discuss what Live Art offers to debates and practices on what it is possible, and permissible, to do with kids, and on what that doing can do. Especially at a time when art is increasingly devalued in UK schools, there seems all the more reason for artists, educators and curators to look at what is possible when work that is made for, with or about children considers Live Art as a strategy.

The PLAYING UP project reflects and advances many of the recent shifts in Live Art and kids, and asks:

  • What are the different relationships and possibilities between art that is for, with, or about kids?
  • What can Live Art offer as a tool for promoting cultural agency, as a means to critique power relationships, and as an approach to explore characteristics of childhood as material?
  • How Live Art can be employed as a strategy for collaboration, risk and agency?
  • What we can learn from children’s relationship to Live Art?
Playing Up Gender

PLAYING UP GENDER is a production of FUNDUS THEATER I Theatre of Research, in cooperation with the Live Art Development Agency.

It was designed by David Caines and developed by an international research group with Live Art Development Agency-LADA, Lois Keidan, Heike Roms, Finn Love, Jessie McLaughlin, Live Art Denmark, Negar Forough, Kristin Gelb (Green), Maike Gunsilius, Kristin Westphal, Friederike Dunger, Susan Sheddan, David Caines, Sibylle Peters, and Christopher Weymann among others.

Supported by Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.


PLAYING UP GENDER consists of 12 cards. Each card references a piece of Live Art and ends with an instruction, that allows players to re-enact the piece. The game features pieces of Live Art from recent years and puts them in context with the history of Live Art and gender. The cards are selected and designed for all kinds of starting points within the gender spectrum and strive to open up escape routes from the gender binary.



PLAYING UP has been conceived and created by Sibylle Peters of Theatre of Research (Germany) and designed by David Caines. PLAYING UP is produced and published in a collaboration between the Live Art Development Agency (LADA, UK), FUNDUS THEATER / Theatre of Research (Germany), Tate Early Years and Family Programme (UK)Best Biennial (Sweden) and Live Art UK, with the generous support of the Goethe-Institut London. PLAYING UP forms part of LADA’s contribution to the Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme (CAPP) supported by Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. PLAYING UP, the game, has been designed by David Caines (with additional designs by Maja Bechert). Website by Alex Eisenberg


For more information contact Live Art Development Agency

Artists and artworks referenced in PLAYING UP

Mammalian Diving Reflex’s Haircuts by Children,
Santiago Sierra’s Person Saying a Phrase,
Mad for Real’s Soya Sauce and Ketchup Fight,
The Guerrilla Girls,
Marina Abramovic’s Freeing the Voice,
Tehching Hsieh’s Rope Piece,
Dennis Oppenheim’s Two Stage Transfer Drawing,
Jana Sterbak’s Remote Control,
Marcel Duchamp’s Rrose Sélavy,
Curious’s On The Scent,
Judy Clark’s Issues,
Harold Offeh’s Covers,
Showcase Beat le Mot’s Blind Football,
Situationist International’s Psychogeography,
Vito Acconci’s Following Piece,
Chris Burden’s Trans-Fixed,
Mike Pearson’s Bubbling Tom,
Aaron Williamson’s Barrierman,
Theatre of Research’s The Search for Miracles,
Marcia Farquhar’s Acts of Clothing,
Joshua Sofaer’s Name in Lights,
Jeremy Deller’s The Battle of Orgreave,
Forced Entertainment’s Tomorrow’s Parties,
Barby Asante’s Barbys Karaoke,
Lone Twin’s Beastie,
Yoko Ono & John Lennon’s Bagism,
David Weber-Krebs & Maximilian Haas’s Balthazar,
VALIE EXPORT & Peter Weibel’s From The Portfolio Of Doggedness,
Bobby Baker’s Cooking the Sunday Dinner,
George Brecht’s Drip Music,
Eva Meyer Keller & Sybille Müller’s Building After Catastrophes,
Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen,
Bow Gamelan Ensemble’s Concrete Barges,
Stephen Cripps’ Roundabout for a Crashed Helicopter,
Zoe Laughlin’s The Performativity of Matter,
Peter Fischli & David Weiss’s The Way Things Go.


PLAYING UP is available as a box, 37 cards, lots of stickers and textbook.

Published in April 2016.

Buy Playing Up