What is voice-in-head...?
The voice-in-head experiment is roughly fifteen
hours of pre-recorded soundtrack instructions, a bunch of MP3 players,
a bunch of headphones, and a bunch of costumes. There you have
it. Which is about as useful as to say that traditional playwriting
is ink on paper. True, but not enlightening. And let's be
honest. Aren't you here for enlightenment?
The voice-in-head experiment is to give each actor her own universe, conveniently
packaged in MP3 format. The soundscape on the headphones operates
as an Inner Voice. Some of the stuff is fairly didactic instruction:
"Raise your right hand above your head. Look to your left.
Stomp twice." However, a big chunk of the information is coded
in the traditional forms of creative communications. Storytelling,
nuance, mood, attitude, parody, threat and insincerity all inform, fill
up, charge and daunt the actor with plenty of stuff to do. For
the motivated actor, voice-in-head is no walk in the park.
We like to|
Fight the Man.
The voice-in-head experiment is theatre-in-a-box. It is an investigation into new
channels of delivery for improv performance. Skipping the rehearsal
phase, there's a great amount of overhead to be avoided by pumping dramaturgy and directing
content directly into the actor's head in real time. There is a new field
of danger and trust opened up, wherein the actors don't know Who Dunit.
Our secret placebo|
On your ass.
Voice-in-head is not a new concept.
has been doing it for years, and Antenna Theater has even dubbed it the science of
You could record soundtrack instructions
ever since cassette tapes hit the mainstream. But today, it's
a whole lot cheaper and easier to exert a whole lot more control. We
assume a plus-or-minus accuracy of 3 seconds. MP3 players don't
skip or scratch, and they don't vary in speed. So every actor
can be on the same page, as it were. But everyone is reading a different
book. The actor's, fully versed in their own world, have no idea
what goes on in the hearts of the other performers onstage. Yup. American
Theatre, since Lee Strasberg, assumes that everybody in the show is
on the Same Page.™ Everybody got the Big Idea. Now,
we have a chance to go the opposite direction. Now, we present
each actor with the problem to solve: What, pray tell, is the Big Idea?
||At this late stage,
Whether or not
It's a sham
A red herring.
Don't fall for it.
voice-in-head is the logical application of recording and playback capabilities
that are at the fingertips of anybody with a halfway-decent computer.
My computer is a 1.2 gigaherz machine running Windows 98. The tech requirements
are just not very high. All it takes is some sound software (ProTools
has a free version), fifteen gigs of free hard drive space, a ten-dollar
microphone, and ungodly amounts of time, time, time.
The long and the short. A technical hack doesn't make a good show.
Headphone soundtracks are a trick for condensing time into careful planning,
while skipping the part where the actors get to gain confidence or clarity.
That might be clever, O clever, but clever doesn't light up a theatre.
Perhaps it would help to add, ". . . and everybody is on roller-skates,
to boot!" But you got to pick your gimmicks and stick to your guns.
In this case, we have one gimmick -- theatre, but without the chance
(rehearsal) to make it any good. Is this wise? Dunno.
There's always plenty of talk floating around about actors Taking Risks.
And plenty of talk about Being In The Moment. Well. The
voice-in-head experiment has no safety net.
Costumed, headphoned, bemused and guided by voices -- rendered like
psychological fat. You Betcha.
As an idea,
A binary state:
Under the influence,
Or over it,
A third state.