A Lucy Guerin Inc & Belvoir Co-production, premiered at the Belvoir St Theatre, August, 2012
Conversation Piece brings together three actors and three dancers in a unique encounter between two performing art forms. The performers engage in an eight-minute conversation at the beginning of the show, which is completely spontaneous and unplanned from one night to the next. Recorded and repeated, this initial conversation becomes the script for the work that follows, using the ever-present iPhone to generate live music, songs, dance steps and text. The words remain the same but their intention shifts from frivolous, to hilarious, to boring, to cruel; tuning into the complexities and hidden subtexts of everyday chit-chat.
In 2011, Lucy Guerin was invited to do a three-week development with Belvoir St Theatre. The result was Conversation Piece, a co-production with Belvoir which brings together dancers and actors in a unique exploration of the two performing art disciplines. The original idea for the work emerged organically in the rehearsal room through the process of exploring human communication through both dance and dialogue. Lucy describes this unstructured development process as both daunting and exciting, allowing the freedom to explore her interest in how dance as a form of expression compares to linguistic communication.
Three dancers meet on a brightly lit stage containing just three rows of orange plastic chairs and begin the show with an eight-minute conversation, which is completely unscripted and spontaneous, meandering from topic to topic. Each performance of the work is therefore entirely different and original, forming the basis of the performance that follows. Conversation Piece explores the seemingly trivial nature of everyday social interactions, as well as the hidden meanings and underlying subtleties and complexities of the simplest of conversations.
iPhones are an important feature of the production, representing the impact of technology on social interaction and relationships, and its ability to both isolate and connect us. Various conversations and dance sequences are recorded, played back, copied, re-enacted and critiqued. iPhone apps are also used by the performers to generate some of the music that is woven into the soundscape, with the phones plugged in and out of connectors that drop down from the ceiling.
Critic Darryn King says: “Choreographer Lucy Guerin and her performers have sought to capture nothing less than the myriad challenges of living with our fellow human beings: a preoccupation it shares with all the greatest theatre. They pull it off with grace, wit and flair.” (Time Out Sydney, first published 2011)
Conversation Piece was first performed at the Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney in 2012, followed by performances as part of the Dance Massive festival in 2013. Appropriate casting was crucially important, and the performers embraced the challenges of a piece so dependent on improvisation. For Lucy Guerin, being unable to control what happened on the stage each night was both a challenge and a great pleasure: “I never tire of watching this work – not only is the conversation and therefore the content different each night, there are strange links created between the text and movement that will never happen again.” (Massive Chats: Lucy Guerin, Conversation Piece, 2013).
AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS
Winner of the 2013 Green Room Award for Concept & Realisation in Dance
12-13 June, 2014: Glasgow, Tramway, Scotland
8 June, 2014: Pilsen, Pap-rna, Czech Republic
2 – 4 June, 2014: Prague, Tanec Praha, Czech Republic
19-23 March, 2013: Dance Massive, Arts House, Meat Market, Melbourne
Premier – 25 August-16 September, 2012: Season at Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney
REVIEWS | PREMIER SEASON 2012
“Three actors. Three dancers. Unpredictable results.”
Belvoir St Theatre, 2012.
Images: Brett Boardman (2012)