Intermediality in Performance

“One contributing factor to the change in paradigm might be that our contemporary culture has become a media culture” (Kattenbelt 2008, p.20).

Something we have experimented with in the contemporary performance module is the use of sound media. Preliminary ideas within my performance group were to create a sound scape using only the voice to produce various atmospheres, whether it was singing different notes or simply using our breath to make certain tempos and rhythms.

From our initial thoughts we have decided to follow a stimulus: the feeling of entrapment. Within this we have researched a number of news reports which involved people being trapped, starting with the recent Kenyan Mall Massacre in which the victims were imprisoned by 4 gunmen in their local shopping centre. We would like to explore and experiment with this notion of being trapped, whether it is us that feels trapped, or our audience.

After watching a recording of Whisper (2008) by Proto-type Theater, it gave us the inspiration to continue with the same idea of creating a sound scape. The company used microphones on stage to produce their own sound effects throughout the piece. The actors would speak all their lines into the microphones but also used various objects, for example a plastic bottle getting crushed to make the sound of rain. This added another layer to the acoustically focused performance creating a suggestive atmosphere which engaged the imagination.


(Photo: Proto-type Theater Website, Whisper. Accessed 25/10/2013)


“We like to experiment with different media and forms.” (Proto-type Theater 2013). Whilst we watched the performance we were each given a set of headphones to listen through. This was an interesting way to engage the audience, which turned my thoughts to how relevant it could be to our piece. Although we were all watching the recording of the performance together, the headphones somewhat separated us from each other, as we couldn’t talk or communicate, making me feel quite isolated from everyone else. This might be interesting to experiment with our audience. The use of microphones and headphones would displace our voices so that we could not be directly connected to them. This would therefore deny the audience access to us through direct sound and not betray the sense of our entrapment. Not only this but it would isolate each audience member and separate them from each other, encapsulating and trapping them within the space.

Another Proto-type Theater production I saw performed live was The Good, the God, and the Guillotine. The use of various media types was physically evident as their set consisted of different platforms with all their technical equipment exposed. They used laptops, two projectors, televisions, microphones and square lights which were hung from the ceiling and swung across the stage. It was a very impressive set but what I found more intriguing was that they made it into an opera. They used some speech but the majority of the narrative was told through song. They again divided the audience and performer, although this time it was created with a physical barrier by hanging a mesh material at the front of the stage. This added an interesting layer when they used projection, but also established a sense of separation. This has pushed us further to experiment with creating sound effects or song in our performance, and using techniques to create divisions with our audience.



Works Cited

 Proto-type Theater (2013) Proto-type Theater, Online: [Accessed 25 October 2013].

Kattenbelt, C (2008) ‘Intermediality in Theatre and Performance: Definitions, Perceptions and Medial Relationships’, Culture, Language and Representation VOL VI \ 2008, 19-29.


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