Theatre Sound (as) Collaboration. Distributed creations, shared agencies

A hybrid international conference from 13-15 September 2023 in Munich and online

This conference concludes the one-year Center of Advanced Studies Research Group “Theatre Sound (2022-2023). We will focus on the collaborative, relational, and “in-between“ aspects of sonic practices in theatre by exploring distributed forms of creation, and shared agencies of practitioners and non-human agents such as technologies. It will consider what kinds of meanings emerge from theatre sound in its many dimensions, and what experiences it holds for theatre audiences. Overarching questions include: How can we describe the “sound” of theatre as the medium and outcome of collaboration? What role does sound play in collective processes of creation and perception in theatre? What forms of shared knowledge are produced here through sounding and listening? Can we describe “cultural differences in the construction of aural experiences” (Bruce R. Smith)? How do joint sound practices contribute to an aural identity of a theatre, the ‘sound signature’ of an ensemble, or a directorial team?

To answer these and other questions, the conference will look at (and listen to) the acoustic, epistemic, performative, musical, phenomenological, technological, and social conditions, effects and meanings of sound, music, and voice in past and present theatre practices.

Programme overview (detailed programme below):

Wed 13 SeptThur 14 SeptFri 15 Sept
Arrival

1.30pm Performance of The Make Up Artist and the Shaman by ZU-UK (only live)
10am-1pm Second Session: Voice as collaboration (hybrid) 9am-12.30pm Fourth Session: Sound in revisited theatre stagings (hybrid)
2.15pm Opening (hybrid)2.30pm-6.00pm Third Session: Collaboration in sound design and music composition for theatre (hybrid) (incl. a performance of Deceleration by ZU-UK)12.30–13pm Closing remarks (hybrid)
2.30–6pm First Session: Theatre through Sound: From Mega Musicals to Digital Minutiae (hybrid) 

Departure
6pm Drinks
7pm Performance: Sendlinger Revolutionsensemble (only live)

Throughout the conference: Performance “Within Touching Distance” (only live)by ZU-UK
As of: 7 Sept 2023
Setup for “Within Touching Distance” by ZU-UK, performed by Alice Motta

The conference is curated by

Anna R. Burzyńska (Krakow) / Adrian Curtin (Exeter) / Lynne Kendrick (London) / Ursula Kramer (Mainz) / Duška Radosavjlević (London) / David Roesner (München) / Julia H. Schröder (Berlin) / Millie Taylor (Amsterdam) / Konstantinos Thomaidis (Exeter) / Pieter Verstraete (Groningen)

Confirmed contributors / speakers include:

Rebecca Applin Warner (Cambridgeshire) / Francesco Bentivegna (Bristol) / Arturas Bumšteinas (Vilnius) / Alyson Campbell (Melbourne) / Paul Clark (London) / Meta Cohen (Melbourne) / Victoria (toy) Deiorio (Chicago) / Jimmy Eadie (Dublin) / Magdalena Figzał-Janikowska (Katowice) / Gareth Fry (London) / Chiara Guidi (Cesena) / Maciej Guzy (Krakow) / Peter Kiefer (Mainz) / Natalia Kowalska-Elkader (Lodz) / Irene Lehmann (Berlin) / Persis Jadé Maravala (London) / Nikolas Neecke (Berlin) / Alex Nowitz (Berlin) / Jorge Lopes Ramos (London) / Dan Scott (London) / SK Shlomo (London) / Andrea Valle (Torino) / Cathy van Eck (Berne / The Hague) / Salomé Voegelin (London) / Melanie Wilson (London) / Demetris Zavros (Liverpool) (links to their profiles can be found below)

Partners

The conference is generously organized and funded by the Center for Advances Studies and supported by the Department of Theatre Studies at the LMU Munich. It is also hosted in partnership with the Practice Hub and the Centre for Creative Futures, part of the Institute for Inclusive Communities and Environments at the University of Greenwich (UK). For details please contact Professor Jorge Lopes Ramos on J.Ramos@gre.ac.uk

To participate, please email theatermusik@lrz.uni-muenchen.de to register your interest. Please let us know, if you intend to take part in person or online. The conference is free of charge, but we advise to arrange your travel and accommodation early. Links for Zoom will be sent to all registered participant nearer the start of the conference.


Detailled Programme

Wednesday, 13 September

1.30pm Performance by ZU-UK: The Make Up Artist and the Shaman (only live)

2.15pm Opening (hybrid)

2.30pm Session 1: Theatre through Sound: From Mega Musicals to Digital Minutiae (hybrid)

curated by Lynne Kendrick, Duška Radosavjlević and Millie Taylor

Lynne Kendrick, Duška Radosavjlević and Millie Taylor in conversation with SK Shlomo
Millie, Lynne and Duska in conversation with SK Shlomo

This panel focuses on the rapid rise of sound making as a collaborative and sometimes corroborative art of theatre production. From the design, recording and production of theatre sound as music, mix, authentic, synthetic, ‘live’ or ‘digital’ this panel explores and celebrates the accelerating changes and emerging opportunities between the art of sound design and theatre. From Musical Theatre excess to microscopic digital forms, from the complexities of the live Musical mix to the recording of headphone pandemic-performances, the skills of effects design and production, to the desired affect of atmospheres, soundscapes and noises, we will explore the intrinsic and essential relations between sound-making and theatre.

2.30 SK Shlomo (online). SK Shlomo will be talking about their work and the technology they developed, known as ‘The Beast’, and the hybrid, unconventional theatre works they have created using it.

3.10 Rebecca Applin Warner (in person). “Locating sound in Musical Theatre”
Rebecca will be discussing the issues pertinent to music being either live or recorded in musical theatre and the placing of this sound in the performance space.  Using examples from her work on actor-musician musicals, and on shows with entirely sequenced pre-recorded soundtracks, she will explore the impact that the location of the sound source may have on the creative experience of the musical.  

3.45 Coffee

4.15 Dan Scott (in person): Sound-grottos and Echo-shells: On the digital minutiae of headphone theatre.

Dan Scott on headphone theatre

5.00 Natalia Kowalska-Elkader (University of Lodz) (online) Experimental radio drama and artist-researcher collaboration: self-reference, structure, and subgenre theory on the example of Distance Unlimited 

5.30 Magdalena Figzał-Janikowska (University of Silesia in Katowice) (online): ‘Theatre of composers’ – new practices on the Polish theatre stage  

Thursday, 14 September

10am-1pm Second Session: Voice as collaboration (hybrid, all contributions online)

curated by Konstantinos Thomaidis and Pieter Verstraete

The recent wave of interdisciplinary scholarship on/through voice has moved decisively away from perceptions of voice as singular, solipsistic or as tied to selfhood in one-directional or indexical ways. Voice (or rather: voicing or vocality) is now understood and practised as multiple, plural, and emergent. This curated panel seeks to embrace this approach and, in light of the symposium’s thematic remit, addresses vocal practice as a material or component of theatrical collaboration. Also, and crucially, it proposes a rethinking of theatre voice as collaboration. The opening part of the session consists of invited talks and demonstrations by artists that work with/though voice: Chiara Guidi and Nikolas Neecke. The second part of the panel will invite practitioner-scholars to reflect on their scholarly-praxical approach to voice as collaboration with software, machines and AI.

10.00–10.05: 1st Panel Introduction / Welcome (Konstantinos Thomaidis)

10.05–11.05: Invited Artists’ Presentations by Chiara Guidi and Niki Neecke (20-minute presentation / speaker, plus 20 mins for discussion) (chaired by Konstantinos Thomaidis)

11.05–11.20: 15-minute coffee break

11.20–11.25: 2nd Panel Introduction (Pieter Verstraete)

11.25–13.00: Practitioner-scholar presentations by Francesco Bentivegna, Alex Nowitz and Cathy van Eck (20-minute presentation / speaker, plus 20 minutes for discussion) [chaired by Pieter Verstraete]

Info for Alex Nowitz‘ presentation “Hierarchical Systems and Multivocal Arts Reflections on the practices in different territories of the performing arts”

List of essays, articles, expositions

Video and audio examples of artistic works

Three examples in particular:

a)  At the intersection of voice, body, and technology—multidisciplinarity, intermediality. Untitled, for voice and live electronics, the strophonion (2016); b)  Following the score or the composer’s vision Die Bestmannoper [The opera on the best man], for 14 solo singers, choir, orchestra, piano, harmonium, toy piano and theremin; c) The potential of improvisation—a (real) form of collaboration Susanne Martin & A.N.: Dr. D. meets Dr. V.

Related work: Artistic direction of DESIGNING VOICES: International festival for vocal performance art, sound & music, Potsdam & Paretz (near Berlin), 26—28 October 2023; Article: ‘The Manifesto for the Multivocal Voice: Principles for a performance voice in the vocal arts’ (2018) in Alex Nowitz: Monsters I Love: On Multivocal ArtsStockholm University of the Arts (SKH), 0 (2019); ‘Assemblages of Multivocal and Schizophonic Practices: Unleashing the machined voice’ in Machinic Assemblages of Desire. Deleuze and Artistic Research 3, eds. Paulo de Assis and Paolo Giudici, Orpheus Institute Series (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2021), pp. 129-141; and ‘Designing and Playing the Strophonion: Extending vocal art performance using a custom digital musical instrument (2016)’ in eContact! 18.3—Sonic DIY: Repurposing the Creative Self, Montréal: Communauté électroacoustique canadienne / Canadian Electroacoustic Community (December 2016).

2.30pm-6.00pm Third Session: Collaboration in sound design and music composition for theatre (hybrid)

curated by Adrian Curtin, Duška Radosavjlević and David Roesner

In this session we pay closer attention to the processes and dynamics of the collaborative relationships involved in, and between, sound design and music composition for theatre, past and present. We are not only interested in the creative dialogue between a sound designer and a composer (in those theatre cultures where this pairing conventionally exists), but also between the more abstract “functions” of contributing music and curating a sonic environment for a theatre performance – which often includes interweaving of musical cues, sound effects, acoustic conditions, aesthetics of voice amplification etc. Taking Bruno Latour’s “actor-networks“ as a prompt, we seek to consider how “collaborative agents” may well include spaces and environments, technologies, objects, instruments, interfaces, and artificial intelligences: how might the idea of creative partnerships extend to non-human or “more-than-human” entities? We also wish to discuss how collaboration between “sound“ and “music“ is articulated in teams, in practices where artistic responsibility is more evenly distributed, where traditional roles and job descriptions are suspended in processes of devising, and in institutions with fluid hierarchies.

2.30–3.30pm Discussion of Audio Papers on Composition and Sound Design submitted by Alyson Campbell (Melbourne) and Meta Cohen (Melbourne), Paul Clark (London), Victoria (toy) Deiorio (Chicago), Jimmy Eadie (Dublin), Maciej Guzy (Krakow), Melanie Wilson (London), Demetris Zavros (Liverpool). Please listen to these ahead of the conference here with the password you received upon registeration.

3.30-4.00pm Coffee break

4.00-6.00pm Panel discussion and presentations: Persis Jadé Maravala and Jorge Lopes Ramos (ZU-UK, London) and Gareth Fry (London)

Friday, 15 September

9am-12.30pm Fourth Session: Sound in revisited theatre stagings (hybrid)

curated by Anna R. Burzyńska, Ursula Kramer and Julia H. Schröder

Theatre productions and their sounds are ephemeral. What do we know about sound of past performances, performances we have not witnessed ourselves? Even video documentations cannot capture the full auditory experience of a performance. The spatial aspect is missing to give but one example. In this session, we will discuss sound in historical theatre productions: Which documents and media are there? How can they be exhibited? What possibilities of reconstruction are there? How can we listen to them again? Experts from various areas, namely, museum collections and exhibitions on theatre, philological research, exhibiting sound/auditory display, Virtual Reality reconstructions, and artistic research, will discuss the possibilities to hear, to experience, and to imagine sound of historical theatre.

Julia, Anna and Anna introducing the session

9:00am Introduction to session: Julia H. Schröder 

9.10am Anna Burzyńska: Sound and sound machines in Kantor’s theatre and possibility of exhibition 

09:30–11.15am Panel discussion: From Archive to Museum? Sound in historical theatre productions and in theatre museums collections with Ursula Kramer, Peter Kiefer, Andrea ValleDorothea Volz. Moderation by Anna Ricke.

11.15-11.45am Coffee Break, 30mins

11:45am-12.30pm  Arturas Bumšteinas and Salomé VoegelinIt’s not Raining – Bad Weather, a prepared improvisation about/with theatre noise machines

12.30-13h Concluding Remarks