Public Recordings collaborators Bojana Stancic, Sherri Hay, Frank Cox-O’Connell, Stephen Thompson and Ame Henderson just returned from a creation residency at Dance4 in Nottingham, UK where they worked on what we are saying, part of Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage 2013 lineup, May 22-25. Read on for some insight into Ame Henderson’s journey and collaboration with Dance4, and how the experience helped to develop the performance:
“Dance4 is an amazing organization that develops and presents contemporary dance in the Midlands. They’re helping us to create what we are saying and will also present it in their 2014 season.
During our two-week residency we spent most of our time in the studio, working out some of the practical and conceptual considerations for the project. Our main focus was the design of the performance environment. We knew that we wanted the performance to happen in an open space without a clear division between audience and performers.
The central design proposal features a field of chairs that spans the entire floor space. Ordinary chairs face multiple directions, are relatively evenly spaced and have a social orientation (meaning people could sit and talk with each other easily). Because of this set-up, it is unclear where the performance will take place, and who the performers might be. Our goal was to create a scenario where upon entering the room, a spectator would have the freedom to choose a chair, making their own decision about how they wanted to view the performance space.
We used our time in Nottingham to work out how many chairs we would need for a given size of room and number of audience members. This involved testing the arrangement and density of chairs, as well as the ratio of full to empty chairs. We determined that the chairs follow a ratio of three audience chairs to two empty chairs. This ratio seemed to create a feeling that there are more chairs than audience members and that on entering the space, one has a choice of where to sit.
Studio visits with local artists, as well as a master class in the theatre design programme at Nottingham Trent University gave us the chance to share what we were working on and then chat about it. We even had an event where we shared a meal with a group of local artists while sitting in our installation of chairs.
Our encounters with test audiences during the residency further enhanced our questions about social interaction as performance. These different kinds of meetings, and the collected impressions from our guests in Nottingham, will be key to continuing to develop the work in the next rehearsal period.”
For more information on what we are saying in World Stage 2013 visit here
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