Living Record Productions are an acclaimed theatre company who create vivid, dangerous and dreamlike re-imaginings of classic texts and pieces of new writing. Recently, they have begun to build on this foundation of theatre making by using sound and video technology in order to reach wider audiences online. They began this process last month as part of BDF17, where they ran a storytelling workshop with older people to document their stories of the end of childhood.
Arts Council England are currently supporting this research and development period with a view to staging a full production in 2018. You can tune in to watch a work-in-progress version of Thrown on Thursday 16th Nov at 9pm.
In this blog they discuss their process of discovering how to fuse technology with a live performance without losing the humanity in their theatrical style.
Thrown is a new performance text exploring life changing moments, gathered during workshops with older people. The project has been a totally new journey for us, opening up our creative process to new audiences online and through community workshops.
Our research has been based around this artistic question: How can sound design be used to make performance as affecting for both an online and a live audience?
We are venturing into the still largely untapped world of binaural sound technology — microphones that are shaped like the human head to create a personal surround-sound experience for each audience member, helping to ‘throw’ our audience into each of these vivid memories.
Binaural sound is being used in theatre more and more frequently, however theatre makers often prioritise the sound design, often performing in pitch black so the audience is totally immersed in the sounds. We wanted to create a blend of live visual performance and sound design, so have worked intricately with Chris Drohan our sound designer in rehearsal to blend the soundscapes with the actions of Jill, our solo performer.
It’s been really important to get the timings right, and Chris has hundreds of sound cues to drop in at just the right time, so it’s taken a lot of experimentation with movement, storytelling and the visual texture of the performance.
“The work in progress performance will be a kaleidoscopic journey through memories [collected in outreach workshops], transposed into a sort of digital poetry by our playwright and sound designer. It is technically a one-woman show — there’s only one performer — but really, it’s more like a fifty-woman show. It’s all of their voices. All of their experiences.” Ross Drury — Artistic Director
As part of Brighton Digital Festival 2017 we visited older people’s groups and ran storytelling workshops. We took participants through a series of exercises to find their answers to the question “Do you remember the moment you realised your childhood was over?”. We then experimented with broadcasting those responses live on our Facebook page — you can see the results here — https://www.facebook.com/pg/LivingRecordProductions/videos/.
“Memories of war time were obviously hugely prevalent [from the workshops], but there were also these delicate and intimate tales of family life that came to the surface. What kept being returned to was the childhood realisation that your parents are also people. That they exist beyond the role of care giver. That they have their own needs and desires and history.” Jill Rutland — Creative Producer/Performer
We decided to register our workshop event at Hop 50+ in Hove as part of Brighton Digital Festival as we wanted to attract participants who were interested in the intersection between technology and art. The festival offered a platform for us to promote our workshop for free and we had some fantastic photographs taken by the BDF team as well.
A work-in-progress performance of Thrown will be broadcast live on Thursday 16th November at 9pm
It would be fantastic if you could tune in and then send us feedback on what the experience was like for you watching at home. This feedback will help us to develop the piece further and understand the effect of our visual and sound choices.
We’d also be really interested to hear from other theatre makers who are experimenting with similar technologies to help deepen our research — please do drop us a line on Twitter and tell us about your work.