University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

The Killers: Investigating Binaural Sound Design Through the Making of Headphone Theatre (Portfolio)

Allen, Richard (2018) The Killers: Investigating Binaural Sound Design Through the Making of Headphone Theatre (Portfolio). Broken Apparatus.

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The Killers is the world premiere of a live site-specific binaural sound work commissioned by MAYK for Mayfest 2018. MAYK is a theatre producing organisation that ‘makes important, unexpected, revelatory work’ including Mayfest international festival that commissions pioneering contemporary theatre, dedicated to presenting boundary pushing performance making that engages with site-specificity, engagement with non-traditional theatre audiences, and advances in new technology.
The performance was the practice-based outcome of a research project into headphone theatre that first introduced the term ‘theatrical latency’ as a pleasurable effect experienced when listening to sound in relation to visual perception. Through the precision of binaural sound design, the practice based investigation foregrounded the interplay between live and recorded sound and how latency refers to both the phenomena of audio delay (in feedback from analogue to digital conversion) and a theatrical sensation that comes from the reanimation of visual environments through aural framing. The process exemplified how binaural technology can be central to the making of contemporary performance practice through detailed and extensive field recordings, site visits and critical audience engagement exercises. The development of the work required exacting feedback, reflection and revisions on the composition of the sound design and ultimately the precise relationship between hearing and looking for a spectator.
The Killers was performed to sold out audiences in The Regent seaside diner in Weston Super-Mare. The show created a compelling first time experience for an audience, as they wore wireless headphones, immersed in the atmosphere of the diner. The show received excellent national reviews including being voted one of Exuant Magazine’s most memorable pieces of theatre of 2018. The findings of the process was further disseminated through an invited speaker series on ‘Headphone Theatre’ as part of the Ambient Literature Research Group (UWE) at the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol in 2018.

Item Type: Other
Additional Information:

A zip file containing the outputs associated with this arts practice-based research portfolio is available to download from this record.

This Portfolio comprises of a series of 26 images from The Killers, a live binaural sound work performed in The Regent seaside diner in Weston-super-Mare. Sat in the diner, the audience wear headphones and watch as the audio is constructed; eavesdropping on conversations; tracking the flight of a wayward fly; hearing in real time the countdown to an assassination. The work draws on adaptations of Ernest Hemingway's The Killers (1927) which tells the story of two assassins as they arrive at a diner, thirty minutes before a killing. The men order two fish suppers and discuss methods of execution: a radio plays Cyndi Lauper over and over again in the kitchen; inexplicable deliveries of novelty objects are made to the tables; a diner band tunes up in the corner; the half hour counts down.

The Killers is a quiet speculation on how the vinyl booths, coffee counters and cherry pie of British diners carry approximations of American culture, and what happens when you get off the train at the seaside and reach the end of the line.

Produced in association with MAYK for Mayfest 2018.

The WRaP record for the performance can be accessed via the following link:

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: The Killers, headphone theatre, binaural sound design, contemporary theatre, binaural technology, theatrical latency, narratives, performances, Mayfest 2018
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Arts
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Richard Allen
Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2020 09:27
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2020 17:14

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