How would you feel about performing a choreographed dance piece, in your home, with your family, in front of an audience? The Philadelphia-based Headlong Dance Theater is doing exactly that with their new project “This Town is a Mystery.”
Throughout four different neighborhoods in Philadelphia, four families have opened their doors to audiences, to showcase their choreographed piece while including stories of their neighborhood, their household, and their personal lives. It’s a deeply personal, intimate, and engaging series of performances.
The idea first came to Andrew Simonet, co-director of Headlong Dance Theater and lead director for “This Town Is A Mystery,” as he was driving around Philly. “I began wondering, who lives here? Who is in all these little houses? What happens on this block?” The project only grew from there. The project is bluntly summed up on the website, “Why?” “Because every household is a universe/Because breaking bread with someone annihilates stereotypes/Because being the show is better than watching the show".
“This Town Is A Mystery,” reaches beyond the "cultural suburb" that Simonet sees so many cultural institutions falling into. It is an inclusive event, not one that traffics in exclusivity. All audience members are randomly assigned to two of the four homes, There are the Bosticks from the Tacony area of Philadelphia, The Aryadareis and their three children, Tobie Hoffman who lives alone, and the McQueens. Each performance lasts approximately 30-40 minutes long and then there is a community potluck that everyone engages in.
This creative project challenges it's participants to re-think the nature of what we call performance, to question the confines of what we call community, and to reflect upon the boundaries of 'home' as a private or public space. The project invites us to meet our neighbors, to start a physical conversation, and to remember that dance and theater have the power to create the most intimate experiences possible.
"This Town is a Mystery" runs as part of the 2012 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival from September 7 through September 22. Find more information here.