rethinking why performance matters through the matter of performance

This is Not a Dream - directed by Gavin Butt and Ben Walters

With performances by Dickie Beau

How to change the world with your video camera... or create your own. 

This Is Not a Dream DVD - order here (DVD available January 2014)


A feature-length documentary, directed by Gavin Butt and Ben Walters, edited by Tom Frederic with music by Morgan Quaintance.

Through the moving, funny, provocative and inspirational stories of 12 unique figures, This Is Not a Dream charts a path across four decades of avant-garde experiment and radical escapism. It traces the influences of Andy Warhol, John Waters and Jack Smith to the perverted frontiers of YouTube and Chatroulette, taking in subverted talk shows and soap operas, streetwalker fashions and glittery magic penises along the way.

The film is based on exclusive interviews shot in London, New York and Berlin with Dickie Beau, Dara Birnbaum, Nao Bustamante, Vaginal Davis, Cole Escola, Vincent Fremont, Alp Haydar, Holestar, David Hoyle, Kalup Linzy, Glenn O’Brien, and Scottee.

The video revolution of the 1970s offered unprecedented access to the moving image for artists and performers. New worlds began to unfold: you could talk back to the mainstream by hijacking its images and upending its values; you could reach out, through the camera, to fellow freaks; and you could create dreamscapes to explore other ways of being. This Is Not a Dream charts the lineage of this revolution and its continued impact on contemporary art and performance.

The final live presentation of This Is Not a Dream accompanied by bespoke live work by drag fabulist Dickie Beau, winner of the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award, 2014, was at Hackney Attic, London on 28 and 29 November 2013.


Watch the trailer here


“BRILLIANT” The Guardian


Festival screenings include London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (world premiere), OutFest Los Angeles (intl premiere), Dirty Looks NYC, MIX Copenhagen, GAZE Dublin.

This Is Not a Dream was commissioned by Performance Matters, in association with BURN.

BURN, the platform for moving images by cabaret artists, was created in 2010 by Time Out London cabaret editor and film critic Ben Walters. It has shown new work created for the camera by underground performers at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, MIX NYC, East End Film Festival and Hot August Fringe, among others.