This weekend was one of my favourite theatre events: the annual D&D gathering run by Improbable. Using Open Space technology to generate a conference/meeting place for anyone involved with theatre, anyone can start the debate they need to have in a fluid and informal way.
In between group discussions on Alan turing, folk music and being grumpy, I spoke to Martin McLean from Deafinitely Theatre about my fledgling opera project that aims to engage the hearing impaired with sound and music. He pointed me in the direction of performer Sophie Woolley, who has been working on new captioning technology. Using motion sensors and speech analysis, caption programmes can respond live to the delivery of lines and change size, font and colour as a broadening the communication of performance to deaf audiences. Could this be used as a way of expressing musical changes? Could this improve the ability to communicate opera to deaf audiences?
We also discussed the political implications of casting a hearing person as Annie, who was deaf. This is a thorny issue for deaf theatre-goers, but how many deaf opera singers are there? I know of one; Janine Roebuck. Would it be possible to have an orchestra of mixed hearing abilities, and a deaf singer? I’m looking forward to finding out..
In other news, my experiments with looping sounds and using programmes like Garage Band have sparked an idea for a new kind of album. Listen to this space for more developments.