Theatre Noise: The Sound of Performance

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9781443834407: Theatre Noise: The Sound of Performance
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his book is a timely contribution to the emerging field of the aurality of theatre and looks in particular at the interrogation and problematisation of theatre sound(s). Both approaches are represented in the idea of noise which we understand both as a concrete sonic entity and a metaphor or theoretical (sometimes even ideological) thrust. Theatre provides a unique habitat for noise. It is a place where friction can be thematised, explored playfully, even indulged in: friction between signal and receiver, between sound and meaning, between eye and ear, between silence and utterance, between hearing and listening. In an aesthetic world dominated by aesthetic redundancy and aerodynamic signs, theatre noise recalls the aesthetic and political power of the grain of performance. Theatre noise is a new term which captures a contemporary, agitatory acoustic aesthetic. It expresses the innate theatricality of sound design and performance, articulates the reach of auditory spaces, the art of vocality, the complexity of acts of audience, the political in produced noises. Indeed, one of the key contentions of this book is that noise, in most cases, is to be understood as a plural, as a composite of different noises, as layers or waves of noises. Facing a plethora of possible noises in performance and theatre we sought to collocate a wide range of notions of and approaches to noise in this book by no means an exhaustive list of possible readings and understandings, but a starting point from which scholarship, like sound, could travel in many directions.

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Review:

"Theatre Noise: The Sound of Performance attends to and theorizes recent and past works in the theatre that have and are self-consciously bringing attention to sound that is excessive or unexplainable and to the multiplicity of ways to hear and listen and, in so doing, is helping to establish the field's foundation. Noise in the theatre is not that which gets in the way of understanding the event and its cultural repercussions, but instead may be attended to as culturally, philosophically, and politically significant. Let us hope that this excellent volume is a catalyst for further work in this burgeoning area of theatre and performance studies."-Dr Daniel C. Dennis, Ohio University; Theatre History Studies, Vol. 33, 2014"Reading Theatre Noise is like holding a conch shell to the ear. Sounds familiar but long-ignored become magnified and theatrical. More than an inventory of noise, this book allows a sense of `aurality' to reconceive theatre space and performance space. Theatre's many noises become dramaturgical encounters. Through sounds, the contributors recognise performance spaces within our bodies, amongst the audience, between acts of utterance and acts of listening, and in the phenomenological potential of what is often considered the `nuisance' of noise. The anticipated protagonists are all present (John Cage, Roland Barthes, Samuel Beckett, Heiner Goebbels), but the contributors to this volume also introduce a contemporary collection of voices, exploring the theatre noise of the human and the machine, the actorly and the audient, the deaf and the blind, the immersive and the site-specific (Graeae, Shunt, Punchdrunk, the Wooster Group, Denis Marleau). This edited collection provides an important platform for an increasingly prominent field, and offers a resonant sounding-board for subsequent explorations of theatre noise." - Dr Dominic Symonds, Department of Drama Creative Arts, Film and Media, University of Portsmouth"`Are we currently discovering sound?' asks Patrice Pavis in the Preface to this book. And reading the essays in the book is indeed to make a voyage of discovery into aspects of theatrical experience and practice hitherto unaccountably muffled from our attention. The whole book offers rich proof of the rewards of the `acoustic turn' in contemporary theory." - Prof. Nicholas Till, Professor of Opera and Music Theatre (Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre), School of Media, Film and Music, University of Sussex"In a field saturated with theories concerned with the dominant realm of the visual and the relentless trafficking and circulation of images, Theatre Noise: The Sound of Performance offers an original and illuminating series of interventions written by theatre directors, performers, musicians, sound designers and academics from approaches that are historically, philosophically and experientially situated. The project of the book is to stake a claim for the productive ways in which performance might be entering a new era, one in which the dramaturgies of sound and noise and a "phenomenology of listening" as Patrice Pavis puts it in his preface, begin to articulate unexplored territories within the expanded disciplines of theatre and performance. An excellent and thorough introductory essay by editors, Kendrick and Roesner, focuses the reader's consideration towards the ways in which an analysis of theatre noise can challenge our understanding of the production of the theatre event, its ontology and its effects, political and otherwise. The collection gathers together essays that together offer a rich consideration of auditory dramaturgies - from the significance of audiowalks as intersubjective "embodied acts of landscaping" (Lorimer in Myers "Vocal Landscaping, Chapter VII) where new modes of mobile and kinaesthetic experience shift the production of meaning and create a new percipient, to Katharina Rost's close analysis of auditory captivation and the potent value of intrusive sound in Luk Percival's Andromache, in which she argues for the value of a specific vocabulary that begins to chart the phenomenology of theatre noise; to John Collins' (artistic director of Elevator Repair Service) astute analysis of his own history and practice as "performing" sound designer with the Wooster Group through which he retraces his discovery of the potential to construct an "aurally modulated reality" in theatre performance through the particular abilities sound has to create logic and meaning. Offering a significant intervention into the political, aesthetic and social implications of this unusually "silent" area of study, Theatre Noise will surely lead the way in encouraging further dialogue between sound studies and performance studies, and across the realms of the acoustic, the visual, the physical and the dramaturgical."- Sara Jane Bailes, Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performance, Head of Drama Studies, University of Sussex"This is a significant and foundational volume. In a series of wide-ranging chapters, it successfully establishes the notion of `theatre noise': suggesting new and original ways of conceiving of and theorising theatre, and opening the way for further research in the field.In identifying and proposing aurality as a full and active complement to visuality in theatre, it challenges us to reassess the role of sound in the making, reception - and potential disruption - of contemporary performance, and to rethink approaches to both the conception and analysis of its dramaturgy. It makes a considered case for the further appreciation of acoustic design as an independent phenomenon and of the role of strategies of sonic production, organisation and control in the creation of theatrical meaning. There is a sustained appreciation here of the polyphonic and contrapuntal tensions between the things seen and those heard in theatre: of the dramatic potential of the separations, collisions and interferences of meaning between the aural and visual, between aurally immersive and visually spectacular. As the editors state: `Sound, silence, aurality, vocality, musicality and noise agitate ideas of ocular-centric theatre.'The case for sound itself creating the space of theatre itself is well made, setting the pervasive though differentiated atmosphere in set-aside places. But whilst the auditorium is conventionally regarded as hushed, a site of attentive listening, it too is a place of noise: of potential disturbance, interruption and response. The listener is not passive and the full consideration is given to his or her dynamic role here.The editors helpfully orientate the reader in unfamiliar territory by identifying over-arching themes - silence, embodiment, materiality, vocality, musicalisation, space, immersion, interaction, listening - but the real strength of the book is the sheer diversity of approach to something that we had barely attended. It is extremely readable and should be of interest to advanced undergraduate, post-graduate and academic audiences.Theatre Noise: The Sound of Performance is a most welcome and timely contribution to the field of performance and theatre studies, supplying valuable optics with which to consider shifts in practices no longer susceptible to the conventions of textual and character analysis; and to describing the joint complexities of theatre-making and theatre-going."- Mike Pearson, Professor of Performance Studies Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Aberystwyth University

About the Author:

Lynne Kendrick is a Lecturer in Drama at the Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. Lynne is a researcher in theatre practices and processes of performance, including actor training and applied performance. Publications include A paidic aesthetic: an analysis of games in Philippe Gaulier s ludic pedagogy in Theatre, Dance and Performance Training Vol 2 (1) London: Routledge 2011, and Arts and Disability, Disability Arts in Minorities, eds. Lidstone & Roberts, London: Erasmus Arts and Media, 1996. She also works as a producer and is a founder member and trustee of Camden People s Theatre, London. David Roesner is a Senior Lecturer in Drama at the University of Exeter. His research interests include contemporary music theatre, experimental theatre, musicality of theatre. Some of his selected publications are: Theater als Musik. Tübingen: Gunter Narr 2003; Szenische Orte Mediale Räume (co-edited with Wartemann, G./Wortmann, V.), Hildesheim: Olms 2005; The politics of the polyphony of performance , Contemporary Theatre Review, 1/2008, pp. 44-55; Musicality as a paradigm for the theatre a kind of manifesto , Studies in Musical Theatre, Vol 4/3: 2010, pp. 293-306; Composed Theatre (co-edited with Matthias Rebstock). Bristol: Intellect 2011.

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