Part live performance, part undercover surveillance operation, Earshot is driven by theatre-maker Kate Hunter’s lifetime obsession of eavesdropping on the private conversations of complete strangers – at fortyfivedownstairs in a limited season from 30 November 2017.
In this dynamic new collaboration, overheard stories are combined with voice-activated text projection to offer a fly-on-the-wall insight into the lives of others – personal, epic, comic and sometimes devastating. Earshot is a symphony of the authentic voice, featuring tales of disease, death, snoring, real estate bastards, too-short catwalk models, colostomy bags, being Jewish, air conditioning and domestic violence.
It is an ambitious work that questions the insidious nature of technology – and the ethical questions it raises – in a culture and a time in which we seemingly cannot live without it. Where does the public domain start and end – in the park, the café, your street, your back garden?
Working closely with electroacoustic musician Jem Savage and performer/composer Josephine Lange, Kate uses analog objects and digital technology to craft a celebration of the Australian vernacular. These eavesdropped stories are teamed with modern and antiquated devices (microphones, pvc piping, plastic funnels, ear trumpets, speaking tubes, hearing fans, megaphones). It also places a spotlight on our private lives. We live in an increasingly digital world in which we are subjected to very private stories being aired in very public ways.
“I’ve long been an eavesdropper, and my experiments over the last few years in constructing my own verbatim soundscapes have prompted a greater curiosity about the things we are prepared to say in public, and the ways in which we listen and hear in different environments,” says Kate Hunter. “We live in an increasingly digital world in which we are subjected to very private stories being aired in very public ways.”
These public airings have subtly but radically shifted our relationship to each other, and ourselves because our experiences and understandings of privacy, of discretion, and of confidentiality have changed. The more we manifest our private worlds in public spaces, the more the boundaries between personal and private shift.
What are the implications for us as these edges blur? Who should be permitted to listen? Where is the line? Does real privacy exist? Earshot asks the audience to question their involvement – are they passive witnesses to the spectacle or are they, too, violating others’ privacy as they watch the performance?
Kate Hunter is an actor, theatre-maker and researcher who makes hybrid performance that is stimulated by investigations into cognitive neuroscience, the body, the senses, diseases and dying, autobiography, talking to herself, sadness, and the strange territory of memory.
Concept, Creation, & Performance: Kate Hunter Composition & Performance: Josephine Lange Electroacoustic Design: Jem Savage Lighting Design: Gina Gascoigne Dramaturge: Glynis Angell Producer: Kath Papas Productions
fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: 30 November – 3 December 2017 (preview: 29 November)
For more information, visit: www.katehuntertheatre.com for details.
Image: Kate Hunter – photo by Leo Dale