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Theatre

The Mechanical Animal Corporation

The Mechanical Animal Corporation is a Bristol based theatre company that I work with - generally producing audio of different sorts, but also some visual stuff.

Plays:

Johnny Head In Air

The third production by The Mechanical Animal Corporation, written by Tom Bailey. This is a play about surviving a brain tumour. It is performed by a Bhuto dancer and Vultures Quartet. There is no dialogue, just sound created by us - either us reflecting the dancer's movement or vice versa. We are on stage with the dancer as part of the performance.

With stark lighting, visceral props and intense sound it is quite a menacing performance, but with a moment of beauty at the end.

For this piece I used the usual mixture of found samples and Pd patches. Because the performance is, to some extent, improvised the sounds needed to be mixed in real time - I used Ableton Live to do this. I also created a simple slideshow for the piece.

The Softening of MAO-A

This was the second production by The Mechanical Animal Corporation, a Bristol based theatre company. This play was written by Tom Bailey who also directed the play. We performed it in July 2011 as part of the Ferment season at the Bristol Old Vic. Ferment is a two week showcase of new work and work in development.

For this play I made a slide show (around 150 slides) with accompanying audio - from found samples to sounds generated in Pd. I also made a few electronic pieces which were used as background music at certain points in the play.

Here's an excerpt from the slide show - this is supposed to be a comedic section of the play where the audience is being subjected to the softening of MAO-A - this is supposed to make you smile!

Und

Und is a play by Howard Barker and was the first production by The Mechanical Animal Corporation - a theatre company based in Bristol. The performance took place in a huge old warehouse, something like 160 x 160 metres which had the biggest natural reverb I've heard.

Seth Guy and I were asked to create live sound for the performances. We had no PA so we couldn't use recordings or computers. We spent a couple of days scouring Bristol's charity shops and tipping sites for anything we could use to recreate the sound effects in the stage directions and also the director Tom Bailey's added directions for sounds and also some free improvisation.

The piece was conceived as a promenade piece in that the audience followed the actress around the huge space so we had to set up "instruments" and objects all round the space. This included a bass made from an eight foot sheet of plastic, wire and wood, penny whistle, violin, bricks, crockery and cutlery, traffic cones, scaffolding, broken railings, various pieces of metal, Chinese cymbals and buckets of broken glass.

To say it was a lot of fun is putting it mildly. The performances took place in the dark with very minimal lighting (often just torch light) so that the audience could not see what was to happen next. A lot of the sound coincided with lighting effects and the movement of the actress, Annette Chown, around the space.

Below is a recording of the last night's performance and an improvisation in the space that Seth and I recorded based around the sounds and pieces we made for the play.

Und - Final Performance 13th Feb 2011

Please note that this is a recording starting with people walking from the box office into the space - just skip the first few minutes to get to the play itself.


Und - Improvisation by Seth Guy and Matt Chilton

Please note that this is quite a long piece and may take a while to start playing.



Below are several improvisations by me and Seth Guy, joined by Mark Pearce performing vocals / spoken word.

Pardon Me Echoes


And More Will Appear


And...


The Auld Triangle


Video

Here are two short videos, kindly shot by Mark Pearce and edited by Seth, explaining some of what we were doing and how. The rain was falling steadily (as it is in the final performance of the play above) and you can tell how cold it was in there by the amount of clothes we're both wearing. Please excuse my violin playing - it's not an instrument I play and it was really just used as a spooky sound effect.


Thanks to Will Connor for showing me the bowed polystyrene trick - it worked brilliantly for the parts of the performance where Und is shocked by certain things that are revealed to her.