Modern Dance for Beginners

Samantha Scott-Blackhall, Beatrice Chia and Mark Waite speaks to us about "Modern Dance for Beginners", which recently completed successful runs both off-Broadway and at the Edinburgh Festival.

THINK: Why did you choose to use only 2 actors for all the characters? Do you feel this modern dance is a human condition?

SAMANTHA: Well, there are 8 characters in all, all linked to one another. It’s 6 degrees of separation. Having the same performers allows the audience to make the link, and yes, it is representative of the human condition.

THINK: Do you think your own experiences during these 2 years have affected your interpretation of the performance?

SAMANTHA: Well, we’re older and wiser, so yes. But the themes of the play are the same. Human relationships haven’t changed much.

THINK: Do you pity your characters? How do you feel about them?

BEATRICE: As an actress, some empathy is definitely necessary. Otherwise it’s impossible to put yourself in their place.

MARK: I think they are all likeable. You relate to them because they are a reflection of our personality. They are stereotypes but they have their own stories, and different layers. It’s very realistic. You see these characters at their most vulnerable, its like the first time you have sex with someone and aren’t sure if you are doing it right… actually you see that too! (laughs)

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SAMANTHA: Yes, I do pity them. On the surface, it’s a comedy, and while they are stereotype characters, it’s also about loneliness between people. There are two people on stage, but it’s more to validate themselves than each other.

THINK: Is this dance more a dance of love, or one of lies?

MARK: Miscommunication. We all lie in relationships.

SAMANTHA: To justify ourselves also. It’s a dance of needs, validation of yourself, desire, lust.

THINK: What has been the greatest challenge in preparing for this play?

MARK: The budget? (laughs) Making the play new, different. Finding new things to say, and recreating the characters from the previous run in 2003, keeping it fresh but retaining the humour.

BEATRICE: We need to play a lot of different characters. There is a need to change from one to another quickly, and not just superficially, but emotionally as well. And we’ve got maybe 10 seconds to change from one character to another. I’ve been in plays where I play more than one character, but this is the first where I play so many main characters and never come off stage.

Modern Dance for Beginners begins its run Nov 2 to Nov 11 at the DBS Arts Centre – Home of the SRT. Don’t miss this “Sex and the City” of the theatre! Tickets from $24 – $39, available via SISTIC. Modern Dance is rated R(A), so be sure to have your ICs ready at purchase!

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