In April this year, I will be hosting a Silent Dinner Party in the Blue Mountains, Australia alongside my exhibition ‘Instance’ at the Cultural Centre.
I’m taking reservations now, so buzz me on email@example.com and I will reserve you a seat. Getting your expressions of interest in now will also help me know how big to make it, so do let me know if you’d like to come.
Also, I am currently looking for a venue! Preferably a house but I’m open to suggestions. So if you are in the area and have a wonderful home or spot where we can seat a bunch of folk eating dinner and would like to collaborate with me on this project, please drop me a line to the email address above.
The host households always help to add a unique flavour to the events, and it is a great chance for the community to be involved in the making of art, you can get as involved as you like, or show up as a guest to your place. Mountains.. do be in touch with me if you have any ideas thoughts or suggestions about where I should host this world travelled project here in our beautiful world heritage home.
I’m also looking for volunteer helpers for cooking and waiting at the event, so buzz me if you are interested in that too.
The silent dinner parties are on the front page of the lifestyle section of ABCnews in the US today! Reporter Joanna Prisco introduces some interesting statistics about how we are increasingly intolerant of noise and crowds while we are eating.
It seems the experience is spreading ;) how wonderful! The more Silent Dinner Parties in the world the better! I will be mounting more in the US at the end of the year. If you would like to be involved in that process drop me a line. For now I am scheduling the events in Europe over the next couple of months.. so you can also buzz me about that if you would like to be involved in any way, as a host venue or a participant.
Some moments from the events in March this year in Adelaide. It was wonderfully animated. Very theatrical, with silent performances and heaps of mime over the four nights. Could it be that we had a clown in our midst? Yes, the fabulous Mr. Bravo Child brought his refined sense of embodiment to the table for us all, with intricately detailed moments woven through every situation and imagined objects outlined in our attention, and offered for us to share. It was epic.
There was the Silent Band, complete with guitar smashing solo, an orchestra being conducted in the round with strings and wind, keys and more, an electro dance party with a DJ. complete with podium dancing. Whoda thunkit – all that music without sound?! The romantic couple in a slow dance topped off the last hour on the last night – who needs music, let’s dance to the beat of our hearts x We had a few rounds of musical chairs, and I must say that the night the peeps from the fringe festival crew were in attendance it got rather competitive.. pouncing for that final chair! We had an award ceremony to commemorate that moment. 3 winners on one chair.. hoorah!
I really enjoyed the run. 30 people a night, 4 nights, aaahhhhmazing food – hard to top the love stack (see pictured below). Made for a great round of charades to the tune of the song ‘love shack, baby love shack’ which was also hummed on numerous occasions around the kitchen. But what a wonder when we decided to prep it in the greater outdoors on the first night. It was such an art to put together, the visual feast got a well deserved spectatorship.
I muse on memories of the Melbourne Silent Dinner Parties, which all panned out to be incredibly romantic affairs – each night with it’s own bent, but all with an air of the amorous. The free flowing connections that formed on the first night have proven to become lasting friendships. Many of them stay in touch, and the group that formed around the couple who got engaged that night attended the engagement party. The couple, Joel and Karen, also plan to have a period of silence at their upcoming wedding embracing the energy in which they promised to get hitched. The evening had a subtle atmosphere, with much underlying the unspoken. Quite a calm group, with a lot of heart connection.
The second night of the festival was a much younger crowd than the first night, and got a little out of control. It was quite rowdy and heaps of fun, and it was no time before you couldn’t tell who came with who as the group merged into a mash-up. Peeps who certainly didn’t arrive together left together. One participant, Simon Eales left all his belongings behind, and when he showed up to collect them the next day I discovered he was a street press reviewer who subsequently wrote an article on the piece, the column called ‘Bangs? no Fringe’ for Front Row Arts in Inpress. His words may give you an idea of what the group were like. They physically connected by wrapping each other up in masking tape. At one point the whole table was tied together this way. Bonding! The group decided to break the silence around the table after about 3.5 hours. It’s the first time a group that has come in from a fringe festival has broken the Silence while still on the premises. Normally I find that when they are festival events, the participants approach the space as holding the silence, and feel free to talk if they are outside of it, but not before. Many a sidewalk debrief has occurred this way. This group ran down the sidewalk and ended up at the pub down the road and dissolved into the evening.
The third night it rained. No big deal, we had undercover, however it did mean that I had to break the tables up to make sure no-one got wet. This changes the dynamic as the groups are smaller and often curious about what it’s like ‘over there’ at the other table. With the help of one of the guests, we collected everyones car keys and played musical chairs with key pairs. Nice to break things up. One lady brought her partner along for his birthday, not telling him anything about the event until they got to the door and she quickly briefed him as I let them in. Wowswers, what a gift. We had a birthday cake, and sung the ol song in sign. Very sweet.
Behind the scenes it was one of the smoothest runs yet. Most of the crew came from my crazy extended family, as they are nearly all in Melbourne I seized the opportunity to collaborate with them in some Art&Life :: and loved every minute. What an incredible difference having all that support makes. And loads of them came along as guests too, which was about time! My particular thanks to the following for giving their time, resources, and wonderful selves to the events: Elizabeth Leticia Grace Cowin, Augustus Viola, Aviva Beecher Kelk, Emma James, Mary Kearney, Rob Krikori, Celia Ryan, Marg Welch, Mag Kearney, Frank Viola, Jack Viola, Susie Rourke, Danny James.
So now we head from one fringe festival to the other, as I prepare for Adelaide Fringe in March. The crew is coming together down there, and we have a few repeat offenders behind the scenes – we can expect to portion out potions on the plates with the fantastic Antonietta as our chef again, wonderful! The dates for that one are March 7, 8 & 9, so get your tix now at the festival website, or buzz me of you’d like to come help instead of buy a ticket, and see ya there in Mad March. Can’t wait to see some shows at AFF as well, and if you want my recommendation for something to see, check out Sketch The Rhyme!
An Afterthought on the Beirut Silent Dinner Party.
The overwhelming sense I felt mounting work in Beirut was how context fundamentally changes any action. In Lebanon, the work was politicised, whether that was my intention or not. In Beirut I was acutely aware of the dangers of Silencing the people, the importance of free speech, and of the proliferation of the Silent Witness through hardship and oppression. These incredibly loaded associations showed themselves through the overtly passionate, and almost dubious responses the idea provoked. The playful and lustful way the people then threw themselves into the experience had a bittersweet tone I hadn’t encountered before. An inspiring encounter with an undercurrent that pulls me along still, a year later.
This was my visual response to these ideas at the time.
My most sincere and heartfelt congratulations to Joel and Karen, who got engaged last night at the first SDP for the Melbourne Fringe when Joel, completely in the moment and without pre-planning it, got down on one knee with a ring, custom made at the table, and proposed to his partner Karen. Karen couldn’t exactly say yes, but she certainly accepted. It was a very emotional experience for everyone there with tears and standing ovations of the silent kind. Truly an example of expressing that to which words do not do justice. As the pair said today, there was such an overwhelming feeling of warmth in the evening, and the group of strangers quickly became a close community.
Magic does happen, and the more we create space for it, the more it multiplies.
A beautiful evening with 11 of us on a rooftop in Condesa, Mexico City. The group lasted three and a half hours which is a great effort. There was a grand countdown to midnight set to rival the anticipation of New Years Eve, and some really lovely conversation afterwards as well. I did begin a Mexican wave – one of the old Silent Dinner favourites, and the locals didn’t know what was going on. Needless to say it didn’t go far around the table! ha!
I had a wonderful evening. Half of the bookings didn’t show up, which is a first, normally there is the opposite situation, however, the relatively small group meant that I got to relax and immerse myself in the experience which was wonderful, and funny. There were some hilarious performances, Caleb’s impersonation of the Beatles is right up there – I’ve never seen someone embody pop music like that before.
A fantastic meal led by myself and my beautiful cousin Vera Rourke. Vera and I hooked into some memories to prepare this one. We served recipes from our childhood, and began the evening with Bruscetta a la Australiana (vegemite toast) .. fancy!! Went down a treat for the salty Mexican palate.
My sincere thanks go out to those who helped make it happen. Vera Rourke for suggesting it in the first place and hosting her second Silent Dinner Party, for developing the menu with me and jumping head first into the experience, it was really fun. To Caleb Franco for his support and humour, to Belmont for having such an amazing rooftop and for letting us take it over and to everyone who came along and became the work. Cheers guys x
New York, Thank you, what an insane experience for me! That was soooo much fun! We sat 47 at that table in that heat.
I do admit that forming percussion groups isn’t exactly my idea of ‘making as little noise as possible’ – but with such a buzz in the city I guess we can expect a beat, and you guys nailed it! Spontaneous group rhythm, Nudity, Dancing, blindfolds, limbo, laughter.. a lot of things to clap…
A huge releasing shout out to you all for coming.. I’m now digesting!
A Silent Dinner Party is happening in New York City, on Monday August 6th at 8.30 pm. Yay! The event is supported by Splatterpool Artspce and will be held in their hybrid art and living space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn which has in the past been host to many an underground dinner party, so it’s nicely warmed up. Check them out.
The menu will be summery vegetarian delights in a cook by colour sensibility :: bright, light and complex to match the days here and combat the swelter. Places at the table are limited and reservations are necessary. You can book by phoning +1 347 707 9612 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The event is $25 a person including the meal, and all proceeds go to supporting the new and wonderful Bedford Baking Studio on Bedford Ave in Williamsburg where the coffee is second to none! If you can’t afford a ticket but would like to come, you’re welcome to help on the night, just holler.