het Theater Festival

Voicing Pieces of ONE?

Sa 08 Sep 2018

A surprising spectacle with one’s voice. Rather than recognizing oneself in the stranger, Voicing Pieces is an invitation to recognize the stranger in oneself.

Regina Janzen

© Begüm Erciyas

In her work, Begüm Erciyas, experiments with replacements and imagination as a setting. While studying molecular biology and genetics in her hometown Ankara, Turkey, she was engaged in different dance projects and became part of a performing arts research. The main characters in her own performances are objects, cameras, the voice of the hypnotist or the audience’s voice. The audience becomes audience to their own perception.

In Voicing Pieces, one’s own voice is staged to become the protagonist. In an intimate setting of an isolated sound booth, the audience is being guided by a simple score. They are becoming spectators of their own voice. Speaking and simultaneously hearing one’s voice creates a theatrical and choreographic experience, which shapes into different forms with each individual interpretation of the score.

The inspiration to create this installation came from the time Begüm spend in Japan. During her stay of three months, she experienced firsthand Japan’s love for Karaoke bars. The world ‘Karaoke’ is a combination of ‘kara’, which means empty and ‘oke’, which stands for orchestra. In Japan, it’s one of the most popular ways to spend evenings after work or celebrate special occasions. You can book a Karaoke booth for a group of friends and even for yourself only. The fact that people were on their own and sang by themselves to themselves, fascinated Begüm.

Often, one of the common advices we give to ourselves and to others is, to listen to ‘the voice within’. There are certain voices in our heads that we experience. For example, the one that we could call the ‘inner critic’. It seems as if this voice simply doesn’t want to be the compassionate friend we all need at times. Another voice we might experience is the doubting one, the one that tries to convince us to not do something we always dreamt of doing,  resulting in us to not jump over that hurdle that is called fear. Some might even raise the question of who the person is that is noticing our thoughts, while we are busy thinking?

This might be one of the complex feelings and sensations Begüm is aiming for the audience to experience during the installation. You are entering a small space. It’s only you and the score for you to read out loud. It’s empty at first, but after a while you might notice how it turns into an orchestra: an orchestra of voices, feelings and sensations. Who is this person you hear talking? Are you in control of what you’re hearing or even the fact that you are talking? Your voice gets literally dissembled in pieces and reassembled again. Are you in control of the speed? Does your voice travel faster? You might feel helpless at times.

You might be able to imagine that you are someone other than yourself. You are your only listener. Surprisingly, it’s intimidating and extremely intimate to read out loud for oneself and to listen to one’s own voice being modified. In the end, I found myself reading the texts as if someone else was listening but me. I read for others to listen. But the only other, was I.

Another interesting fact is that on the same day, Lisa Verbelen was performing her music performance/installation called ONE. Both pieces are about time, space, light, sounds, objects, people, feelings, thoughts and a score. ONE is a four-part mixed choir, sang by one woman. The score is 75 meters long. It’s an attempt to show that everything is in movement in every single moment. An attempt to realize how it feels like to be one single part of something bigger.

In fact, Lisa was indeed voicing pieces and Begüm shows you what it means to be ONE.

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