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Archive for February, 2012

Blood and Roses

17th February

This was the first stage in a series of events to meet artists with experience of devising audio tours or who make work for specific locations.  We met with Sandy Thomson, artistic director of Poor Boy Theatre, to find out about their audio tour Blood and Roses.

I felt the meeting proposed answers to some of our questions.  The play was presented as a site specific audio play to be listened to through head phones while led by a guide.  From early tests reading a map while listening proved too difficult.  So it was a mix between a live event with the experience of being in a group and the safety of a guide while offering the production possibilities of a recording.  The music was felt to be very important and the sound effects very good.

In previous discussions about tours, we wondered how to weave together history, personal stories and description into one piece.  The group liked the idea of layers of information but how to make this coherent?

Thinking of the tour as a piece of theatre opens up these possibilities.  Blood and Roses shows beautifully how complex narratives and histories can come toether.

Our meeting used smell to evoke atmospheres, a 1940s house, a woodland, Russia.  There was a mixed response to this experiment, some people loved it some people found it distracting.  A room of sensory choices was suggested by one participant.

The extract we heard was audio described and the group agreed it was a good description but one person said “it made me wish I was there”.  A testament to the importance of being in situ and getting the real atmospheres and smells.

A good discussion got underway about finding a balance between providing information and creating an artwork that is open to interpretation.  Sandy said that for her its important to acknowledge the audience, which not all theatre does.  I think this will be important on our tour.

A few changes were suggested.  Firstly that visually impaired participants may prefer not to walk and listen at the same time, so the story would develop in stages.  For people with a hearing impairment, a constant volume level would be good and loud noises such as sirens should be avoided.

The audio description was very good but we discussed the possibility of this being incorporated into the story.  Recorded amid the chaos of the Fringe, it seemed a bit separate from the rest of the recording.  Sandy agreed, with time, there is scope to work more closely with the audio describer and write some of this into the story.

It was great to meet a writer enthused by the possibility of working with visually impaired participants and audio describers.  It seems like could be a lot of creative possibilites in this.

Next stop, Portobello Beach and hot chocolate around a bonfire – Thursday 8th march meeting at RNIB offices at 4pm.

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