The Boon Companions are an anonymous immersive theatre and romantic art collective that aims to place surprise joy in the hearts of those curious enough to take a journey with them. EWF are lucky enough to be the host of their next experiment: You Might As Well Live. Their famous Dance Magic Dance immersive theatre parties have previously been set at fictional wedding receptions, backstage at a Bob Fosse musical in 1979, in Paris in 1960, and pre-WWII Australia. But this time they’ll be sweeping us away to a 1930s literary salon. Get your outfits and notebooks ready.
As with all Boon Companions events, the actual details of what will transpire at Dance Magic Dance – You Might As Well Live are top secret. But can you give us just one hint? Pretty please?
Our lips are always sealed until doors open! We can promise some very exciting live music and spoken word performances, from very familiar faces that will make your eyes go fluttery and your underthings catch aflame. Yes there will be more than one room. Yes there will be the chance for audiences to ‘get involved’. We recommend that those attending arrive with a pen in hand and dancing shoes on feet. Any more than that we cannot say. We like audiences to trust our curation and arrive utterly sans expectation.
The Boon Companions have been hosting weird, secret art parties for a year now. How much have the events changed over that time? What have you learned?
Our first ever Dance Magic Dance was called The Wedding Reception, and we presented it in Melbourne in May 2015. In most respects it was like a Boon Companions demo tape. It contained all the elements we love – dancing, drinking, costumes, ridiculous performance and a cast seamlessly immersing with a very open-minded audience. It was a beautiful beginning and showed us what was possible. The main change now is that our events are BIGGER – we work on a grand scale with a big cast, and believe in mixing through so many hidden secret elements that it’s impossible for an audience member to see absolutely everything in one night.
Each of your events is so different, and the audiences are always delightfully surprised. Have your audiences surprised you? What has been one of the most unexpected, unscripted moments to take place at an event?
Our audiences are the most glorious, brave, up-for-it group of joyhearts we have ever had the fortune of co-mingling with. Every time we open our doors they surge in ready to participate and observe and get loose. We adore them, and work hard to always maintain a safe, happy, inclusive space that affords them the benefit of time out and silence if they would rather just watch (we are determined to make our events happy ones for introverts too). One of our favourite memories involved our I Am Woman party, set in 1972 during the second wave of feminism. Half of the audience took their brassieres off and set fire to them and spent the remainder of the evening dancing half-naked. We certainly did not expect that, but it was testament to the wonderful inclusive nature of the evening that they felt compelled to do so. More shirtless dancing!
Why do you think people romanticise the arts and literary circles of the late 1920s and early 1930s? What were artists doing back then, that they aren’t doing now? What are contemporary artists missing out on?
There was certainly a sense of physical gathering together that I think we perhaps keenly miss in an age of FB groups and Instagram followers. People drinking and eating and exchanging ideas as they excitedly flicked spaghetti from their forks and made out in stairwells. The sense that in order to fully exchange creative notions and challenge each other they had to actually come together in a space (or write to each other, but we’re not sure we want to do a handwritten post party….yet). The Algonquin Round Table was such a dynamic, witty, sexy, dangerous, warm gathering of great minds. More of it, we say.
Boon Companions’ audiences are renowned for their impeccable style. For the unininitiated or uncertain, can you give an example or two of how best to dress in “late 1920s literary elite” fashion? What items should audience members be searching for in op shops?
With all our parties, the level of commitment to dressing up is really up to what the audiences feel comfortable with and what character they’ve chosen to inhabit that evening. Whether it’s the rogue writer who’s been working all day and turns up in an old tweed jacket slung over a shirt, a man about town in a more refined double breasted jacket and tie, or a stop in from a tuxedo-clad Hollywood star. For the women, you could be a Dorothy Parker type in simple black attire with glittering brooch, a glamorous starlet with bias cut velvet dress draped in (faux) fur, or even a songstress in a tailored suit and fedora hat. Think Henry Miller, John Steinbeck, Anais Nin, Marlene Dietrich and, if stuck, pop into to Rose Chong for some expert advice. And remember: whatever you wear, make sure you can have a good dance!