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Underbelly Arts 2010: Public Lab & Festival retrospective

So here it goes, a reflection on producing Snail Piece at Underbelly Arts: Public Lab and Festival 2010.

We began by intending to develop a piece I had performed at an Appleloft late last year where I essentially implied that I was going to kill this snail but, lacking an ending, I asked the audience whether I should. Once we’d started work during the Lab period we also began a two-week process of negotiating our position and finding out exactly how we would create this piece, and what it would look like by the Festival. We tried various discussion/decision making models, and by the second week had settled in to a plan and a way of working with the Lab format, which invites audiences in twice a day to observe/work with artists, to produce the final piece. It was a rewarding and educational experience professionally, and a great experience personally.

One of the most valuable experiences we had over the course of the project was negotiating, as a team, our changing understanding of the opportunity we were working with. Snail Piece began during our work on Sexy New Urban Design Team… Erskineville at the Tiny Stadiums Festival. This was the first major project Applespiel had undertaken, and bolstered by our perceived success, we looked around for the next opportunity. Submitting Snail Piece to Underbelly Arts was a move to keep producing more Applespiel work, and most importantly, to show the public more of our work. Read more…

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Halfway through festival…

We’ve reached our halfway break up here in Serial Space, three performances so far and another three to go. We rode straight through first half, performing, talking and then heading out to the festival. I Can Draw You A Picture have their magazines complete, which I’m very excited to pick up, and we’ve particularly enjoyed finding the In The Cracks stuff, some of it very tiny and hidden. The Co-op is plying a successful and delicious soup trade. As well as the pieces we’ve seen, we’ve had a very friendly and educational experience, with lots of people eager to share their impressions and engage us in conversation about our piece.

As for the piece itself, the large audience sizes gave us a lot to work with for the first two pieces. The last audience was smaller, and the different size produced a very different dynamic, between themselves and in regards to our own role. Following the piece we discussed recognizing when and how to take a more pro-active role.

One standout moment has been a small girl stepping on stage to take the snail home as Duffy hovered a hammer over it.

– Joe

Two Snails Saved.

July 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Today’s first performance is just over. It was great for me to watch it, I haven’t been around all week so it was pretty much a whole new show using the ideas we’d played with before.

Audience was great, everyone really got involved and there was some lovely voting about inside or outside. Also because we all kind of wanted to see as many scene changes as possible.

We’ve got our second performance in about fifteen minutes, and Mark is wandering around looking at some things. We have a camera but no cord (whoops). There’ll be another post in about an hour.

First Snail Piece Performance

July 17, 2010 1 comment

The snail is saved and taken home by a lovely lady with kids. Not the result i was hoping for but still…

Our Underbelly Blog Guest Post

July 16, 2010 Leave a comment

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.

GUEST BLOGGER: RACHEL ROBERTS from Applespiel

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.

Underbelly Arts Festival tomorrow!

July 16, 2010 Leave a comment

We’ll have a post up later today probably from Joe, recounting the last few days of the Underbelly labs, but just a quick reminder that tomorrow is the festival! We hope you can all come along and see the work we’ve been developing over the last two weeks, as well as some other great pieces.

As a great taste of what you’ll see, here’s a video from Dylan Behan who came by on Saturday and filmed bits and pieces from the day.

The festival goes from 2pm-10pm, and tickets are around the $20 mark. This is for a groovy 16 performances and installations, many of which are interactive. It’s 2 minutes walk from Central, and there’s a couple of great eateries nearby, including the ultra-delicious co-op Should be a great day. Particularly if you spend most of it having fun at I Can Draw You A Picture, like I want to.

You can get all the information you need about the festival, including tickets and the schedule/map, from the Underbelly website, which is here.

As I said, I’ll be blogging from the festival, documenting our own experiences but also looking at the rest of the festival. But that won’t compare to being there! Hope to see you tomorrow.

“But maybe it’s better to die knowing love…” Underbelly Arts Lab, Monday and Tuesday

Over the last two days at Underbelly Arts we’ve been developing a new, and thus far final, model for Snail Piece. We kept it under raps for Monday’s public tours and tried it out on Tuesday, with very positive results. It is a simple, workable model that focuses on and exercises audience discussion and decision making, and in the remaining three days leading up to the festival we expect to have a lot of fun tweaking, creating and refining. Read more…