‘Bisclavret’ phase 2 – The Audio Play

After a successful day of performances on 14th November at The Walker Art Gallery, The Liverpool Players decided to take their production of Marie de France’s Bisclavret one step further and put together an audio-only version of the play. After creating the music and sounds for the live show, I too had been thinking whether these existing resources could be reapplied somehow, so it was a perfect opportunity to try my hand at something new.

When I was younger I used to listen to many stories and theatrical adaptations on cassette tapes lent from our local library (or library lorry). One of their key draws for me was their clever use of sound to create an involving and immersive listening experience. Rather than simply being narrated, these stories were accompanied by effects and dialogue within their appropriate spaces – forests, houses or caves, all kinds of adventure would come to life through the audio alone. This rediscovery of a childhood pastime was doubly helpful considering that the live show had a younger audience in mind, so the audio play could follow suit.

Although all the recording for the dialogue was completed in my studio, I did a lot of work with convolution reverb (like Cubase’s REVerence), which uses impulses responses recorded in real-world spaces to create lifelike recreations of natural reverb. I experimented with impulse responses from stone and wooden rooms of varying sizes to try and give an edge of authenticity to where these characters were supposed to be interacting. I also played with low reverb/high early reflections settings to produce an ‘outdoors’ sound for the forest scenes. All this, in conjunction with modest combinations of sound effects, was to create an overall ‘sound world’ for a play that had not been written with a purely auditory experience in mind. This was a first for me, and a very intriguing production to be involved with – props to Sarah Peverley whose idea it was in the first place.

How do you think it turned out?

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The performances took place in the Medieval and Renaissance area of the gallery, right in front of the magnificent ‘Triumph of Fortitude’ tapestry – originally woven around 1525.

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