We all like to look through the windows of people's homes as we walk past, imagining their lives and what they might do. So the idea of Electric Hotel, a dance and sound piece that takes place in a specially constructed modernist glass building, is genius. The audience sits outside the 1920s structure, separated from the action by glass, looking into the rooms of the hotel and eavesdropping via headphones and a high-tech sound system, on what's happening inside. A co-commission by Sadler's Wells and Without Walls, it premieres at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival on 7 May before moving onto the Brighton Festival, Mayfest in Bristol and London's King's Cross in June.
The piece is directed by Frauke Requardt and David Rosenberg, co-founder of the Shunt theatre company, who are known for creating theatre in unusual places. For Rosenberg, the idea for Electric Hotel grew out of his interest for observing people in their private spaces and the unexpected moments that can occur. "Frank and I looked at how we could turn those small, random moments where there appears to be some connection, into a choreography that explores the workings of the whole building," explains Rosenberg. "We want to transport the audience through the windows by giving them an intimate sound experience. When you look at a building you might create a story about what's happening, so this piece is the audience's imaginings of what might or might not be going on inside".
What might or might not be going on involves seven dancers performing as hotel guests and housekeepers during the hour-long show. And afterwards, when the performance is over, audience members can abandon their role of voyeur, step inside the hotel and have a drink in one of the rooms as it turns into a bar.