INTERVIEW: Nicole Pingon, Spider in my Soup
Interview with the Director of Spider In My Soup, Nicole Pingon
By Lara Franzi
Nicole Pingon spins our heads with another captivating work. Spider in my Soup is driven by the quirky understanding that spiders are versions of ourselves from the future, looking back on our memories; either peacefully reliving it or wishing for a change in the outcome.
Performed at the Bondi Pavilion Gallery as a part of Bondi Feast, this work is deeply rooted in its connection to nature. Spiders linger in the corners of the room, spinning and weaving their webs and watching everyone. Strings are tied around the space, looping under chairs and wrapping around posts. Spider in my Soup follows the grounded childhood friendship of two girls, to their meandering adolescence.
I had a conversation with Director (and fellow Playwave Creative!) Nicole Pingon about the show and its evolution.
Lara: Do you have a fear of spiders?
Nicole: I don't love spiders, but I also respect them a lot. If they’re here, they’re here for a reason. I don't kill bugs. A lot of the spider content in this show was influenced by the fact that I used to have a spider that hung out for a few weeks when I had first heard the theory [that spiders are versions of ourselves from the future]. That also influenced the show. When I see a spider, I wonder, are they dropping in on us because it's a good moment or did they want me to change something?
I'm definitely not scared of spiders. The girls in the show are less scared of spiders now which is really cool. When we started they hated spiders. I'd love to think that people leave the space feeling at least slightly differently about spiders, and hopefully won’t kill them, because all creatures are beautiful and deserve and to live.
How does this play make you feel?
This play makes me feel really warm and fuzzy. It's a really beautiful vibe in this space, and because we developed it together, nearly over a year now, a lot of the time spent in the room is us being together. What I also love about this show – and what I keep telling the girls – is that it’s magical. We are creating a space that is magical and I wanted to tap into those spaces of magic - the magic of live performance and the magic of music. The magic of what's around us every day, including our friends but also natures and spiders, and how's there's so much magic around us that if we allow ourselves to sit back and listen we can tap into that magical space.
Do you feel that the strong friendships in your creative crew grows on the characters’ friendships in the show?
What’s interesting with this particular group of creatives is that they were all my friends. When you spend so much time in the room together, friendships evolve. I think this time around - because we did it earlier in the year as a part of Shopfront’s ArtsLab residency - coming back to it and rehearsing only for a few weeks, it was nice to see everyone come together and we all just wanted to be in the space with each other. I definitely think that links into the show.
What was your process throughout the show, did you find that things changed and evolved?
I'll start from the very beginning. I was one of the recipients of the ArtsLab residency at Shopfront, which is a 6 month artist mentorship residency which provides space, time resources and support for new work. First, I brought on Margret and Bernadette as devisors and the work was completely different back then. The work I initially pitched was about the childlike side of surveillance in Australia and I was really determined to create an immersive performance. But as we were in the space, we realised that immersive performance is really hard, so we had a lot of showings and we were really lucky to have people come in a lot during the process.
Eventually I became fascinated by the live elements of performance and thought, what's better than live music? So I brought in Emily and Ruby, who I knew are great musicians. I think it emerged very organically, it was never about spiders and friendships. I think eventually spiders just morphed - they wanted to exist, they wanted to be in this show. The spider theory in the show is something that I don't remember where I've heard it from […] but it stuck. Once we had that theory we did the first show at Shopfront in January, then we found out that we got a program at Bondi Feast, which gave us an opportunity to develop it and refine it, but also bring into the space what we learnt over the past couple of months apart, since we all ended up doing different projects.
Do you feel like you want to try more immersive types of shows?
I'd like to. I'm really interested in what immersive performance means. I'm really interested in performance that immerses the audience in a way that the performance wouldn't be the same without that particular audience from that night. I want the audience to experience the show and know that they had autonomy as an audience member, that they’ve had an influence on the show to inform the story and the space. That's what I would like to explore with immersion.
Right now I'm really interested in performance that looks beyond text and beyond dialogue and a script. I want to delve deeper into the live show. I'm also interested in the natural world and how we exist in a space, in a universe with all the things around us. If we listen, there’s so much around us and out there. Like with the spiders, if we sit back and listen we can see the magic that is all around us that we often overlook. I love the magical world of life and the natural world. I find this magic through live performance and would love to keep delving into that and exploring that and sharing that with people.
Spider in my Soup is an observation of our moments, encouraging us to consider these events from a different perspective. The intricate details creep up on you, as you witness your own mistakes forming on stage. Spiders are there to remind you of the present that will soon become the past. It’s to understand the patterns you weave, your thoughts that become attitudes, that become actions, that become behaviours, that become your personality and that become you.
SPIDER IN MY SOUP
9 - 11 July