Listening: Headphone Theatre and Auditory Performance
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.
- Augoyard, Jean-François, and Henry Torgue. 2005. Sonic Experience. A Guide to Everyday Sounds. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
- Balme, Christopher. 2006. Audio Theatre: The Mediatization of Theatrical Space. In Intermediality in Theatre and Performance, ed. Freda Chapple and Chiel Kattenbelt. Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
- Bizley, Jennifer. 2013. ‘From Anechoic Chambers to Cocktail Parties: The Challenge of Localizing Sounds in Complex Acoustic Environments’, Keynote with Andrew King Theatre Sound Colloquium (28 June 2013). London: RCSSD, ASD and RNT. https://vimeo.com/74458511. Accessed 15 Nov 2016.
- Collison, David. 2008. The Sound of Theatre: A History. Eastbourne: Plasa Ltd.Google Scholar
- Connor, Steven. 2014. ‘Violent Listening’ Talk, The Listening Workshops (14 May 2014). London: Bedford Square, RHUL.Google Scholar
- Curtin, Adrian. 2013. Recalling the Theatre Phone. In Theatre, Performance and Analogue Technology, ed. Kara Reilly. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Dyson, Frances. 2009. Sounding New Media: Immersion and Embodiment in the Arts and Culture. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Farina, Angelo. 1993. An Example of Adding Spatial Impression to Recorded Music: Signal Convolution with Binaural Impulse Responses. Acoustics and Recovery Spaces for Music Conference, Ferrara: Italy.Google Scholar
- Fuel. 2013. http://www.fueltheatre.com/projects/ring. Accessed 18 Aug 2017.
- Hamilton, James. 2015. ‘Spaces, Places and Sounds in Performance Arts’, Projection/Expulsion: Strategies of Beholding symposium (14 March 2015). London: CCW Graduate School, University of the Arts London. https://soundcloud.com/ccw-graduate-school/james-hamilton-spaces-places?in=ccw-graduate-school/sets/projection-expulsion. Accessed 14 Feb 2017.
- Home-Cook, George. 2011. Aural Acts: Theatre and the Phenomenology of Listening. In Theatre Noise: The Sound of Performance, ed. Lynne Kendrick and David Roesner. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.Google Scholar
- Ihde, Don. 2007. Listening and Voice: Phenomenologies of Sound. Albany: State University of New York.Google Scholar
- Kendrick, Lynne. 2010. Interview with Jenny Sealey.Google Scholar
- Lavender, Andy. 2016. Performance in the Twenty-First Century: Theatres of Engagement. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Lochhead, Judy. 2006. ‘Visualising the Musical Object’ in Evan Selinger (ed.) Postphenomenology: A Critical Companion to Ihde Albany: SUNY.Google Scholar
- Love, Catherine. 2013. Review of Ring. http://catherinelove.co.uk. Accessed 14 Feb 2013.
- Machon, Josephine. 2013. Immersive Theatres: Intimacy and Immediacy in Contemporary Performance. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Machon, Josephine. 2014. (Syn)aesthetics and Immersive Theatre: Embodied Beholding in Lundahl & Seitl’s Rotating in a Room of Moving Images. In Affective Performance and Cognitive Science: Body, Brain and Being, ed. Nicola Shaughnessy. London: Methuen Drama, Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
- Machon, Josephine, Christer Lundahl and Martina Seitl. 2017. Missing Rooms and Unknown Clouds: Darkness and Illumination in the Work of Lundahl & Seitl. In Theatre in the Dark: Shadow, Gloom and Blackout in Contemporary Theatre, ed. Adam Alston and Martin Welton. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
- McLaren, Jamie. 2013. Interview: David Rosenberg Talks About his Latest Show Ring, and The Psychology of Perception. London: Run Riot.Google Scholar
- Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 2002. Phenomenology of Perception. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Myers, Misha. 2011. Vocal Landscaping: The Theatre of Sound in Audio Walks. In Theatre Noise: The Sound of Performance, ed. Lynne Kendrick and David Roesner. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.Google Scholar
- Neath, Glen. 2013. Ring, dir. David Rosenberg. London: Fuel, Rosenberg and Neath.Google Scholar
- Selinger, Evan, ed. 2006. Postphenomenology: A Critical Companion to Ihde. Albany: SUNY.Google Scholar
- Sterne, Jonathan. 2006. The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction. Durham and London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
- Voegelin, Salomé. 2010. Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art. London and New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
- Welton, Martin. 2017. In Praise of Gloom: The Theatre Defaced. In Theatre in the Dark: Shadow, Gloom and Blackout in Contemporary Theatre, ed. Adam Alston and Martin Welton. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
- Wilson, Melanie. 2013. ‘The Auditory Scene’ at Theatre Sound Colloquium (28 June 2013). London: RCSSD, ASD and RNT. https://vimeo.com/75041793. Accessed 20 Apr 2016.