Developing a Soundworld

In May/June 2021 thanks to the support of Arts Council England and DanceEast we were able to invest some serious time and expertise in exploring a temporary new direction for Witchfinder. The restrictions placed on singing and live performance had inspired the company to develop the piece as an audio performance, incorporating foley sound collection and editing and ambisonic sound design.

We enlisted the expertise of sound artist Simon Keep who ran a series of online workshops with some members of the community theatre company Unscene Suffolk.

“It has been a real privilege to be part of this inclusive collaboration of some extremely creative people. I have learnt so much about how sound is used to enhance audio productions especially being sight impaired and how we use sound to build up a picture of what is being portrayed. I loved the workshops and the very warm welcome that I received.”

Gill, Unscene Suffolk member

As a finale to the online workshops, in June the community participants continued their sound explorations within the wonderful surroundings of DanceEast, working in the aptly named ‘Wellbeing Studio’ under the guidance of Simon. Each day the group exchanged ideas with our professional cast and band who were rehearsing next door in the theatre space. We were all impressed by the patience of the guide dogs who sat through two days of singing, musical experimentation, simulated noises of torture and crowd noise.

“Simon was great to work with as he was always interested in our ideas and then with a bit of wizardry, turned our recordings into something that in my view will really add value to what is already a superb performance from the Witchfinder cast.”

Paul, Unscene Suffolk member

At the end of the two day event, the cast shared a run through of the whole piece with the group, who gave their feedback on the work as an audio performance, including where narrative elements required strengthening, and the potential for sound design to enhance audience experience.

“I loved hearing the recorded sounds the Unscene members had created and their thoughts about adding to our story. Their attention to detail added so much and it was wonderful to receive feedback, too, of areas that were less clear or the more successful moments.”

Claire – Witchfinder cast member