#10TheatreFacts: Taryn Bennett on 'Silkworm'

April 30, 2019

Winner of a 2018 Standard Bank Ovation Award, Contagious Theatre’s newest production, Silkworm, looks at the ordinary aspects of life in an extraordinary way through the eyes of the gregarious and socially awkward Georgina —but not just on any given day, but the single most important day of Georgina’s life!


This show, described as 'a dollop of humour and a touch of whimsy', is conceived and directed by Jenine Collocott and stars Taryn Bennett, with additional dramaturgy by Nick Warren.


Bennett shares #10TheatreFacts with us to give audiences an idea of what to expect when booking tickets to go see Silkworm at Alexander Upstairs between 6 and 18 May 2019:


1. As a production, what genre of theatre best describes Silkworm?



2. Where does the idea for Silkworm come from? What is it about?

Silkworm was borne out of improvisations suggested by my director Jenine Collocott. We knew we wanted to make a clowning show, so the first thing we did was find my clown. Once the clown arrived, Jenine asked questions and led me through improvisations, which eventually brought a theme. We developed a sequence of scenes from there.


3. What sets the Silkworm storytelling and clowning techniques borrowed from Italy’s Helikos School of Theatre Creation apart from representations of those techniques usually seen in South African theatre? What makes it unique or different?

Silkworm is unique because the clown is influenced by the audience. Many parts of the show aren't set but are determined by the members of the audience. No two shows are the same. For the clown, the audience is really there. There is no fourth wall.


4. People sometimes think of ‘the clown’ as representing extremes: a jester pulling funny faces and serving up superficial slapstick comedy —as introduced to us as children at kids parties— or simply just terrifying (thanks to IT). But, clowning is so much more. Why do you think clowning has the power to balance hilarity with pathos to reveal true heart and highlight elements of humanity in a relatable and endearing manner?

Theatre Clowning is essentially an intuitive style of storytelling that is quite naive yet super sophisticated. If a person is able to access the child within themselves they will be taken on the journey with the clown.

5. Do you find that clowning —in the manner that Contagious Theatre infuses it into shows like Silkworm— takes South African audiences by surprise? What has your favourite audience reaction been to date?

We performed Silkworm to a high school group, and at one point in the show, they learners jumped to their feet and started to dance! At another show, an elderly man was in tears. Each audience will have a different reaction. This is what I find so exciting.


6. How would you describe your Silkworm character Georgina to audiences? If they randomly ran into her at the Alexander Bar, what impression would she leave on them as a person?

People would probably love Georgina; she loves people and life.


7. Silkworm is billed as an ‘evocative exploration of the ordinary things that make life extraordinary’. Without giving too much away, can you give us an example of that in the play?

Georgina is going on a seemingly ordinary journey, but the day is significant. This significance is only revealed in the end.


8. What is your favourite Silkworm line?

'Did you know that silkworms only live for about a week? I think…. You can check that on Google.'


9. What message or experience would you like audiences to take away from the show?

I hope Silkworm evokes a sense of recognition in the audience. A realisation that all of us are in the world together. That people are similar and we're all searching for meaning.


10. What does theatre as a lifestyle mean to you?

We work a lot of nights, weekends and are away from home a lot, but it is wonderful to earn money from something that you are good at and enjoy doing.


Show: Silkworm

Venue: Alexander Upstairs

Dates: 6 - 18 May

Time: 7pm

Price: R100 (R90 online)
Running Time: 60 mins
Conceived and Directed by Jenine Collocott
Performed by Taryn Bennett

Additional Dramaturgy by Nick Warren

Bookings: shows.alexanderbar.co.za


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