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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

Luca Silvestrini on Protein's touring dance show May Contain Food May Contain You

Luca Silvestrini’s Protein’s popular show May Contain Food May Contain You is a witty dance theatre show invoking the senses to reflect on the sensory, cultural and social implications of food. A refashioned version of May Contain Food to fit more intimate spaces, it’s touring to arts venues and village halls this Spring. We spoke to Luca Silvestrini, the founder and Artistic Director of Protein, about the inspiration behind the show and the importance of rural touring. 

Luca Silvestrin

What inspired the initial concept behind May Contain Food and how has the show evolved into May Contain Food May Contain You?

For a long time composer Orlando Gough and I wanted to collaborate on a project where singing, dance and audience experience could come together in equal terms. Having discovered a mutual passion for food and all its social, political and more intimate aspects, we created May Contain Food in 2015. We started by bringing together dancers and singers to investigate our essential yet complex connection to food and eating and what emerged was a fascinating, fun and often disturbing world of experiences intimately connected to family memories, ethical views and so much more.

A few years later, Protein was approached by Rural Touring Dance Initiative to adapt the show for village halls and arts centres. Given the communal aspect of coming together to taste and share a show based on our relationship with food, I thought this was its natural evolution. This is how May Contain Food turned into May Contain Food May Contain You; the show went from 8 to 2 performers and the more intimate and community focused nature of rural performances further enhanced the participatory, interactive elements of the work.  


How do you approach creating an immersive and interactive experience for audiences, particularly through themes like food and community?

With a subject like this, it’s easy and necessary to create an immersive experience. What an opportunity to create a multisensory performance in which food takes centre stage and create a link between performers and audience! The in the round presentation, cabaret like, restaurant like atmosphere offered us the opportunity to explore participation and interaction, resulting in an event where everyone is included, plays a role, takes sides, partakes in a sort of ritual and turns into a community.


How do you think performing in smaller venues like village halls will change the audience's experience?

When visiting a village hall or community/arts centre in rural areas, you are entering into and welcomed by a formed community. Whilst we are transforming their space into a pop-up restaurant and host the evening, the audience remains the real custodian of that space, it’s history and social meaning. Taking part in the performance, not just watching it, recognises their role as active members of the community and offers them an opportunity to come together to experience and share something unusual and yet so in line with the life of that space. This is why we invite the audience to bring and share a dish and have incorporated a performative raffle that celebrates local businesses and worthy campaigns.


You're also touring a specially adapted version of the show May Contain You into care homes alongside the tour, how did you tailor it to be dementia friendly?

We have created an interactive adaptation for care homes where the residents can watch, interject and participate in regardless of their physical and mental condition. We are using food to connect and start conversations, dances to enjoy watching and movement and singing to join in. It’s rather beautiful and life affirming to see them, their relatives and members of staff come alive, laugh and share teas/coffees and jam tarts.


Could you share a memorable moment from a previous performance that illustrates the impact it had on audiences or the performers themselves?

It’s hard to find a one memorable moment. Since we began touring this work in 2016, we have been experiencing great moments of community life, sense of belonging and local sustainability. What makes this type of touring so special is to see and feel the care and love that an entire community employs to welcome and make the performance possible, making the whole event not just a show, but a participated and memorable occasion.

The dance show is touring the UK 23 Feb – 13 April. More information on locations and how to book tickets here: 


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