Imagined cities (Voicescapes)

Scarso, Jacek Ludwig and Campkin, Alexander (2015) Imagined cities (Voicescapes). [Performance]


This output is centred on the performance Imagined Cities, commissioned by Colourscape with composer Alexander Campkin RAM, in which an original staging approach devised by Scarso was utilised, building on Scarso’s methodology of vocal performance (Voicescapes) developed through workshops in both professional and community/education contexts, including Royal Opera House’s Thurrock Trailblazer.

While the field of vocal studies has progressively emphasised the interdisciplinary potential of vocal performance (Novak, 2015; Thomaidis and Macpherson, 2015), the idea of durational/installational live singing is still a little explored subject.

• How may live singing be used to create a durational, post-dramatic exhibit?
• How may such exhibit interplay with an environment siteresponsively?
• What are the creative opportunities and challenges in its inherent relationship between singer, listener and site?

Methodologically, the project began by experimenting with the relationship between singer, listener and site, through exploratory tasks including singing in darkness and improvising in increasingly complex vocal ensemble configurations within a given location. Progressively, this approach was geared to the specific needs of Campkin’s score and the staging in the Colourscape structures . Such an approach was thus articulated into three phases: Phase 1 Voicescapes, that is Scarso’s original approach to integrated, site-responsive voicework, applicable both as a devising and staging tool, as well as a pedagogical practice; Phase 2 Devising vocal narratives, in which Scarso worked with Campkin on the dramaturgy of his composition, applying devising methodologies developed in Scarso’s doctoral research with his company Elastic Theatre. 3) Voice-site-response, in which the work, also developing from Elastic Theatre’s methodologies, takes shape as a non-linear staged piece, directly responding to the site in question.

Alongside the performance of Imagined Cities as part of Colourscape Festival 2015, the piece was re-commissioned at Waddesdon Manor in May 2016. Scarso’s Voicescapes workshops have been presented internationally, in contexts such as Royal Opera House’s Thurrock Trailblazer, Istituto Teatrale Europeo in Rome, London Metropolitan University and Spark Festival with the British Council in Hong Kong (2014-2019). The conceptual findings of this work were presented by Scarso in two papers, for Tate Exchange (2017), ACLA Annual Conference at Utrecht University (2017) and TaPRA 2019, University of Exeter.

Through both staging technique and devising/pedagogical tool, the resulting work evidences its originality in the integration of polyphonic singing with the layering of durational, immersive and site-responsive formats, transcending stylistic categories.

Imagined Cities (Voicescapes) Portfolio - Dr Jacek Ludwig Scarso, Alexander Campkin et al.pdf - Published Version

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