Rachel Erdos creates a beautiful and memorable piece of dance-theatre with Q&A (the 36 questions). Based on the study, The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness by Arthur Aron, 36 questions are asked to the audience and a cast of four dancers on stage. The questions vary from banal, ‘given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?’ to more personal and reflective ones, ‘what is your most treasured memory?’. The answers range from shy audience members speaking softly into a microphone to more decisive and insightful replies from the cast members. Accompanied by dance, the company of four partners with one another in different elaborate dance phrases: lifting each other gracefully, answering questions honestly (it seems) and getting each other off-balance, occasionally falling on the floor to recover back to standing pretty quickly.
The audience surrounds the stage from three of the fours sides of a square, the lighting is unassuming, revealing the audience from all sides. Q&A (the 36 questions) hits jackpot gold with an audience member sitting in front of me who insists on discretely viewing the performance through her phone, uploading her stories on Instagram as the performance goes through. I can’t help thinking this woman is missing the point of sharing a real experience in real time with real people. But, the performance finishes with the most human gesture, initially causing a chill in the room. The cast invites the audience, and this woman, in particular, to sit on stage and stare up-close to another audience member for a full four minutes. There is an immediate silence in the room; everyone feels vulnerable as this four minutes unfold slowly with a mixture of tears between strangers, smiles and hugs.
It’s beautiful when theatre and dance bring people together, helping us to reconnect to one another through the most basic form of communication. Looking.