Listening: Sonority and Subjectivity
Sound, resonance and subjectivity are the focus of this chapter, which explores a form of theatre in the dark that harnesses the affective movement of sound. Extant theatre, the UK’s leading company making work for and by the visually impaired, has undertaken research into theatre sound that can move its audience, literally, through an immersive performance experience. Using forms of technology which are in many ways the inverse of headphone theatre, they equip the body of the audience yet leave the ear open. Armed instead with haptic technology, Extant’s production Flatland is an exploration of how sound in all its sonorous, sensual and sensitising potential can form the audience experience; how it not only moves us, but can allow us to move. Drawing on Jean-Luc Nancy’s seminal thesis of listening and his theories of touch, hapticity and syncope, this chapter demonstrates how sound in theatre generates a form of resonance, a movement within listening that also brings forth a sense of self, as well as the other selves that may be sensed. This analysis suggests an understanding of audience as a form of corps sonore that is formed through sonority, how our engagement in sound brings us into intersubjectivity through the audience experience.
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