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From Central Europe to the Wild West: Interview with Bence Mezei

Posted September 16th, 2019

In a previous interview, FringeArts talked to Kelly Copper of Nature Theater of Oklahoma about Pursuit of Happiness, a work of dance-theater created in collaboration with the Slovenian dance troupe EN-KNAP Group. This piece will be performed in Philadelphia on September 20 and 21 for the 2019 Fringe Festival.

Here we talk to Bence Mezei—one of the dancers of EN-KNAP Group—who discussed his perspective on the project.

Bence Mezei en-knap group headshot

Bence Mezei

FringeArts: How did this project and collaboration come about?

Bence Mezei: As far as I know, Kelly and Pavol met Iztok [Kovač, artistic director of EN-KNAP] in some party somewhere some years ago where he invited them to work with his company. I remember that we had a sort of short audition talk with them in Ljubljana where Pavol gave all of us a piece of paper with their address on asking if we would write to him and become pen-pals. So from then on we began to correspond with each other via handwritten letters which we kept on doing throughout the entire process and even after.

The second time we met they came to have a two week workshop with us and brought a book which was a collection of cowboy dances describing in detail how to dance those dances and so we made a very long choreography using that book. During that process we also began to practice working with language.

After that there was a quite long break, can’t say exactly how long, but long, and so we took the initiative and began to organize evenings for ourselves outside of work, calling it ‘speech nights’, where we would all pick a monologue or some fragment from a play or film, memorise it and perform it to each other for fun and further practice. At times, also, we would  meet up and read to each other out loud to strengthen our voices.

Then the next time we met, a couple of weeks before that, we received a mailing with a script, called Pursuit of Happiness, and when they came we began to work on a theater play. That was again a two or three week long process, and I remember we had an open rehearsal at the end which took about four hours.

Then again there was a break, and when the third time we met in Ljubljana, that was the last period of the process, about four weeks, in which the show got a heavy cut and took its final shape. This took about two years altogether.

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