CMU School of Drama

Thursday, April 20, 2017

This Is a Journey Into Sound: Simon McBurney on ‘The Encounter’

AMERICAN THEATRE: Should you be in a position to ask writer/director/performer Simon McBurney a question, you should be prepared less for the answer than for a tour of the thought process behind it. That’s only fitting, given that McBurney’s work with Complicite, the company he cofounded in 1983, so often uses a mixture of technology and old-fashioned stagecraft to explore the nature of time, consciousness, and memory.

1 comment:

Rachel Kolb said...

One of the reasons I love sound and design overall is that most every choice is intentional. Every addition and every omission is there to serve a purpose. One of the design choices of this piece that I find most interesting both as a design choice and as a logistical choice is the use of headphones. I dislike headphones when listening to music sometimes. It makes me feel cut off from the world and isolated in my own little bubble of sound. Conventionally, theater is a communal experience, where the audiences is experiencing the same piece of art at the same time creating a space where every person in the house is in the same moment. But, the use of headphones in this piece breaks this convention of theater, just kidding I don’t think break is the right word, I thin k fractured is a better word. The people in the audience are still experiencing the same sounds at the same times. They are all getting the sounds wired through their own individual headphones, but the headphones could create that feeling of isolation, that you and you alone are hearing those sounds because for all that you know the person next to you could be listening to another thing entirely. Theater is not usualy performed like this, but for this piece that design choice serves a unique purpose and it is fascinating how this convention is fractured and how it changes the experience of theater performance.

Another thing about this piece that amazes me is the logistics of getting all of the headphones set up in a theater. This was a touring show so that means that they had to have a number of headphones to accommodate for the size of the venue they were performing in. And then connecting them to the system. It must have been a labor intensive process. All of the little things that go into the headphones were probably ridiculous. I keep thinking about having to haul off of them and having to clean them to keep them sanitary and make sure every pair works so that every audience member that comes to see the show has the experience that the designers want them to have. Its amazing. I wish the article went more in depth about these components.