Black Sequin Dress

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The Black Sequin Dress takes us on a journey through the psychic state of a suburban housewife. The audience is taken to the setting of a nightclub where the woman falls and is rendered unconscious. As the play progresses we watch as the main character delves into her own subconscious within the underworld her mind has created. The woman encounters her deep-seated issues in regards to her identity and is also faced with her sensuality and hidden desires (Wright, T. 1996). The audience is taken through an interconnection of her memory and an imagined reality, as the woman in the black sequin dress proceeds through a journey of self-exploration. The creator of the play was inspired by the artwork of Paul Delvaux, a Belgian artist famous for his surrealist paintings. He mostly painted female nudists and it is believed that she was moved by the elements of both feminism that he incorporated and the distorted way in which he painted (Bradby D & Delgado, M. 2004). In the Black Sequin Dress, the main character is played by four actors. These actors are of similar appearance and are dressed in the identical costume. These actors shift between portraying the different components of the woman’s personality and representing themselves as a uniformed chorus, as they seem to disconnect from the intimacy of certain events throughout the play. Jenny Kemp, born 1949, is an innovative writer and director based in Melbourne. Her plays were first produced in 1977 and include the works of The Black Sequin Dress, Call of the Wild, Still Angela and Remember. Kemp has received a notable amount of awards and has coordinated a variety of different workshops at tertiary universities around Western Australia. Her main creative processes are based on spatial awareness and the experimental involvement of various elements, such as sound and visual perception and she enjoys including eccentric concepts in her work. It is more common for Kemp to incorporate visual arts in her plays, rather than the conventional traditions of the theatre (Minchinton, M. 1998). The Black Sequin dress goes beyond the traditional conventions as it does not simply inform the audience of basic characters and events. Instead, it explores the distorted and flawed aspects of our society as there is a feeling of half-waking throughout the play. Every individual situation is dissected in order to discover multiple ideas and meanings. Kemp examines the creative possibilities of the human psyche in a way that challenges and alters the views of the audience. The character of ‘the woman’ is a multi-layered individual, her experiences are structured around the idea of falling. The central concept of falling is portrayed in many different ways, from simply fainting to more symbolic notions such as the ability to fall pregnant and vertigo. Kemp rarely portrays an action or word with only one meaning; instead she explores the notion of multi-layered concepts and encourages the audience to question what it is they’re seeing (Rundle, G. 1996). The quartet of women has several encounters with the waiter and the man through the course of the play. These intense meetings between the characters occur in many fascinating ways, including on a train that runs through the set. The way in which the topic of conversation constantly alters between these characters gives the audience an impression of a warped reality. The dialogue pushes against the constraint of time and place, provoking the audience through sound, image and surreal, eccentric speech. In the dictionary definition scene, Woman 4 is lying down after taking the initial walk and fall from the beginning of the play. As woman 4 gets up, she is disorientated and is trying to examine the fall. Following this she turns her head and upper body to the back of the stage and begins to re-enact the fall in slow motion as Woman 3 pronounces the various definitions of the word fall from offstage. The fact that one actor is abstractly miming, as...
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