Home > Snail Piece > Our Underbelly Blog Guest Post

Our Underbelly Blog Guest Post

This is the piece that Rachel wrote for the Underbelly blog for last Friday. The blog has a bunch of posts from various artists and the people behind Underbelly Arts Festival, and is well worth checking out.


Applespiel is a very young performance collective. We try to use this to our advantage when applying for new residencies and talking ourselves up: ‘young, emerging collective’, ‘fresh, young artists’, etc. No matter how young and sexy we are, though, we can’t fake experience. Underbelly Arts: Public Lab and Festival is giving us an invaluable opportunity to spend a fortnight in a lab environment where we can experiment and devise for an ever-changing audience and get as much feedback as possible.

The lab portion of Underbelly is the most appealing to me. When I see a new performance, artwork or creation I am usually more interested in the process of how it came into being and how it was pieced together to become the final product. As a relatively new artist I want to learn from the work of others. Plus it’s incredibly interesting and exciting to see something being created. There is no standard recipe for how to create something. There are common methods, like brainstorming and impulse work, but the more serendipitous events are often a mystery. Things happen by accident, through mistakes, collisions and mishap. The process of creating is open to the public in Underbelly Arts and I think everyone could gain something from coming on a lab tour during the week.

Particularly beneficial to a young collective of artists/performers is the space and time to make mistakes. My fellow Applespielers and I have decided that considering our experience and the nature of our project, Snail Piece, total honesty between ourselves and our audience (whether in person, in performance or on our blog) is for the best – no use in trying to cover up our mistakes during the lab. If we trial a new idea and it doesn’t work out, great! As long as we can pick it apart and figure out why, document that process and then build upon it, that mistake have worth to us. For the first week of Underbelly Arts, we tried a few different approaches to Snail Piece – gansta rap, forums, mock trial, gallery-style experiences and sharing circles. Some worked better than others – some aimed for different things. Some ended up going in completely the opposite direction to the one we expected. Snail Piece originated from a small performance in a garage in Wollongong, with Joe Parro informing us of the mating habits of snails to the music of The Notorious B.I.G. and then asking us to complete his performance for him by deciding whether or not he should smash his snail with a hammer. The arguments that ensued became our focal point for out Underbelly work – group decision making processes and audience debate. During the next week of Underbelly we’ll be trialing several other methods of presenting the snail dilemma before the Festival on Saturday.

Applespiel, along with several other projects in this year’s Underbelly crowd, rely on audience participation and interaction to develop their works, so we really value every audience member who comes along to a lab tour to see the ‘behind-the-scenes’ process. A big thank you to everyone who has supported and continues to support this fantastic arts festival, and a special thank you to the team working at Underbelly Arts for all the hard work. We hope dealing with Arts Law for us (are we allowed to kill the snail yet?) hasn’t been too bad.

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