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Listening: Headphone Theatre and Auditory Performance

Chapter

Abstract

The listener is a central figure in theatre aurality, as part of an audience, and as a lone attender, often indulged in a private experience that is characterised by intimate technologies (either sporting some sort of headset or glued to a phone, but not necessarily in conversation). This chapter explores theatre from the perspective of the ear through analysis of the different types of auditory performance that are created by headphone theatre. The focus is on the theatre in the dark of Glen Neath and David Rosenberg, specifically Ring (2013), the auditory experience of binaural recording and the auralisation of the spaces and events that surround its audience. This is a form of immersive theatre which is deceptively guided through theatre sound. The intimate aurality of Ring makes the audience both the subject of and subject to this form of theatre. We seem to appear in this production against our will. However, exploring the auditory phenomenology and the physiology of listening to this form of theatre demonstrates how immersion, usually thought of as an all-encompassing experience, is created through directional sound and specific audience engagement. The acoustic spaces of theatre in the dark are redrawn through sound and they are generated through the auditory performance of our listening. This chapter will consider audience as an act and listening as generative.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Central School of Speech and DramaLondonUK

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