The Performance

In Search of Silence – Participatory Installation

I had always envisaged creating a series of investigative documentaries, exploring different aspects and nuances of “silence”.  I had also envisaged making some kind of performance piece centred around this work.  Backing up a little, after leaving school, for a few years, I had the privilege of working and learning in PACT, at the time an experimental theatre group (and still going after 50 years!).  And interestingly when I left school, I wanted to either make radio plays or go to art school.  I was presented with both opportunities, chose art school, ended up as a therapist and academic.  Now I’m back to the radio play, kind of …

17 February 2017

OK, I did it, I found a venue that wanted to host my participatory installation version of In Search of Silence . A big thanks to the convenors of Anywhere Theatre Festival which runs in Brisbane in May.  Also another big thanks to Books@Stones bookshop. Now I have to deliver.  Time to script, sort out the tech gear and plan this innovative 30 minute extension of questing for silence. 78 days and counting …

20 January 2017

I kind of put this on the back shelf for a while, wondering whether I could or would even create a performance piece. Then I was browsing for grants … and I found an Australian theatre person who used headsets to assist her actors during their performance .. and a sound engineer who had helped her. Now I’m excited again and wonder about the most relevant way to proceed. Time to take stock and think on it ..

There is nothing more inappropriate than doing something just for the sake of doing it.  And second only to that is doing a bad job of something. Self doubt or self realisation or self censoring … time to decide if it goes ahead.

13 December 2016

Amazing what a bit of preparation can do to your workflow.  OK, now I’ve learned the term for what I’ll be doing … “live feed” … and talking it through with “the voice of silence” from my documentary, a few conceptual changes have been taking place.  I clearly want to engage the audience in ‘thinking about silence’, given that you can’t really experience it.  And the multiple layers and perspectives of silence are the key to my show.  That’s where I have to choose what to present and also how much to involve an audience vs actors, that is unscripted (at worst, silent) pioneers vs overly prescriptive actors following a script.  The challenge will be in the balance and also the desire to ‘go live to air’ so that I can bring the richness of the experience to a listening audience.

I’ve decided my preferred venue for such a piece … the library .. with all its connotations of Sshhh, be quiet … one of our sacred silent places … where ‘silence is golden’ … or at lease encouraged.  And the numbers could be limited by my current desire to utilise ‘silent disco’ technology – that is, wire free headsets tuned to a particular broadcast frequency. The cool thing is you can actually broadcast three signals to the headsets, giving the ability to ‘partition’ the audience into two groups and keep one channel for the ‘actors’.  More to think about … particularly making sure the tech doesn’t take over the story .. stay tuned for the saga of Searching for Silence 

23 November 2016

Here is a “first draft” concept pitch I made to an alternative theatre event, for an installation style performance of a new work to be created –  Searching for Silence.  It will require a certain amount of Outside Broadcast technology (the easy bit in reality) as well as successful application to venues and broadcast partners. And a little funding.  I aim to perform the piece in two metro and two regional settings in 2017.  Let’s see how it goes. [When this idea is developed further, this page will be transferred to a blog post].

In Search of Silence is an award winning radio documentary piece that was always intended to extend to a live installation experience.  A new 'installation piece' is being written for production in several locations in Australia.  The original radio documentary can be heard at this address, and forms the conceptual beginning for the installation piece.

The installation version will be broadcast live around Australia on the Community Radio Network.  An audience will assemble half an hour before the piece commences and a group of 'actor participants' known as 'pioneers' will be selected.  The performance piece takes 55m 50s (for broadcast reasons).

Each 'participant/pioneer' is listening to the broadcast, but is also invited to participate as they search for the meaning of silence.  They wear headphones (to listen to the piece and to hear special instructions) and a microphone. They each contribute a 'voice' to the piece and the combined 'set piece' and 'participant voices' are streamed live from the venue around Australia in real time.

The audience at the performance will hear the set piece and the live performers as well as observe their interactions.  The radio audience will be guided without eyes through the world of silence.

I will be amending this concept over the next few months, but this particular festival takes place in May 2017.  Stay tuned, give feedback, get involved if you want.