Telling stories with imagination.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Metta likes... people making sound

This week Metta love the noises performers make. And no, we’re not talking about the lines they deliver or the chatter in rehearsal room, but in their role in producing live sound design, and the impact of that on performance.

In its most obvious form, this can be using actor-musicians to create live music. Our production of Blood Wedding had cast members make up the wedding band, who were sometimes present in the scene and sometimes just providing music.

A new the piece that we’re currently developing, Sexing the Cherry, will also feature actor musicians. I’m aware that this is dismissed by some as a simply a money-saving measure, but I believe it can add to and the enhance the experience. It allows the audience to have a stronger relationship with the performer and the piece by keeping the story telling all within the same world and allowing them to consider the potential talents of both the performer and the characters they are portraying.

The brilliant Bane (and Bane 2) at the Tristan Bates Theatre has all of the sound effects made live by the performer. From the lighting of a cigarette through to stealing a police horse, every action is underscored by a vocal effect. In a show where every setting is created by the performers words and physicality (with a bit of help from live underscoring by an on-stage musician), the vocal sound effects add to the energy and humour which drive the pieces forward and to the overall sensation of watching something created fresh before your eyes.

In Ernest and the Pale Moon, Les Enfants Terribles had the company turn into Foley artists as well as musicians when they were not involved with the central action. You could watch them create noises using instruments and everyday items; one chilling effect that has stuck which me was the crushing of a bottle as neck was broken. Positioning them around the stage and making them always visible allows the audience bear witness to and become part of the disciplined relationship between the performers.

This involving the audience in the act of creating the theatre was taken to an extreme by Brief Candle Theatre in their children’s production No Place for Dreams. Here the performers got their audience to create the sound effects of rain and thunder to build up storm, allowing the audience to fully engage with the production in a relevant way.

I feel that by using performers who are already have a relationship with the audience to create a soundscape it creates a more solid, self-contained world and invites the audience to become more aware of the role of those noises in conveying the story. This lifting the veil on the process of creating of theatre is something that we love at Metta, and playing with sound is a great way to do it.

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