Walking and listening; the case of audio performance walks

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Ristani - audio essay

CC-BY-NC: Maria Ristani

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This proposed paper focuses on audio performance walks – a rather recent strand in site-specific theatre which mobilizes spectators off their complacent theatre seats, and casts them, instead, as active walkers-listeners of co-created theatrical space. Guided by way of spoken narrative, headphone/earphone audiences walk along a predetermined route (in)directly linked with the audio material they are privately listening. My interest in this proposed paper lies with the ways in which the walking mode interacts with listening in such in-yer-ear/on-foot theatre experiences. How does this walking/listening duet revisit received dynamics of theatre praxis, and how does it reinscribe a participatory theatre ethics, approximating, as it were, Jacques Rancière’s idea of “the emancipated spectator” (2009)? How does private listening meddle with shared walking in such performance walks? Is engagement with physical space – one that walking so wonderfully effects – enhanced / altered by the listening experience? How does listening re-write the space which is physically treaded and experienced in movement? How does walking, in all its sensorial immediacy, negotiate the auditory bubble-like space created by listening? These are some of the queries that fuel this proposed presentation, one that will also draw on specific examples of digital-audio performance walks (such as Graeme Miller’s Linked of 2003) to further and better illustrate its claims.

Maria Ristani

Maria Ristani

Maria Ristani received her Ph.D. from the School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, in 2012, after completing her doctoral research on the intrinsic musicality of Samuel Beckett’s ‘text-scores’, exploring, in particular, the ro...

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