Life Flash brings a unique sonic perspective to Camden Fringe

over 100 voice recordings soundtrack this improvised dance performance

Director and produce of ‘contemporary sound showcase’ Life flash at Camden Fringe, Juice Cui, tells us about how she interviewed over 100 people on the streets of London on the theme of redemption.

The result is a soundtrack of poems in 26 different languages, which bringing a unique sonic perspective to a this striking new piece of improvised physical theatre, including contemporary dance and performance art.

How did you begin recording all the different voices, and did you have a plan or just see where it took you?

At first I planned to compose a soundtrack featuring only distinct layers of voices. Then I developed the idea of using all the voice samples from my library, which is the reason why I looked for a topic to begin gathering a huge diversity of opinions around. The process of interviewing more and more people from different ages and religious groups excited me, and made me eager to find new languages and ideas.

Where were these street recordings made and how did you end up with so many different languages?

I started with the area near my home and uni; Borough Market and Elephant & Castle. Then I went to busy, bustling places like Waterloo Bridge and Euston Station, Brick Lane and Covent Garden, and also quiet places like St Nicholas Church and Richmond Park. I don’t think only English and Chinese poetry can satisfy my ears. When I heard a kid slurring Spanish poetry to me, I felt that my appreciation of language is not enough to be bilingual. Sometimes it was more intriguing watching people’s emotion when you didn’t know what they were sharing. In many cases, not all texts need to be fully understood and interpreted.

Tell us a bit about how you explore the juxtaposition between physical theatre and sound art. 

I think the relationship between them is inseparable. It gave us a lot of inspiration for improvisation, and at the same time clearly distinguished the changes in different stages of life. I personally used a lot of Laban effort when exploring their fusion, for example, I tried a lot of Slashing and Floating in the childhood stage, a lot of Thrusting in the youth stage, a lot of Pressing in the middle age stage, and a lot of Gliding in the final old age stage. These physical efforts and vocal art merge to complete each other.

Why do you think redemption is the thread that always runs through these end-of-life moments?

Our visual director, Jason, had experienced these end-of-life moments when he was out hiking without enough food supplies or having had enough sleep. He found himself lifeless until he reached a church for a short break. That was his thread of redemption. For dancers, feet are their third lives. They would dance until they burn to the last moment of their lives. The human soul is always alone. We search for the meaning of life in art, work and relationships, but essentially we are looking to bring peace back to the soul, so that we are no longer seeking redemption from any confusion or pain.

How have the performers developed their improvisation around the spoken words?

According to the rhythm of the language and the energy contained in it, we keep a keen eye on what the opponent gives us on the stage, receive the changing information in a timely manner, endow it with emotions, and enables our body to respond to our partner. Our props—Modular theatre also helps us to develop our improvisations. Modular Theatre will build a series of performance modules with different properties and functions, input, output and processing modules through embedded communication links. Its output forms will have three types: sound/light/dynamic machinery, responding to the environment and the audience entering the space in a specific interactive form. In the design of the input module, we introduce the research method of Tangible User Interface, hoping to let the audience touch and use it more naturally and directly. At the same time, the website is built, and the communication between the processing module and the website and the positioning system are realised. The audience will perform ‘three- dimensional programming’; on the sound and light. Different orientation sequences or distances may bring different interactive effects.

Why should everyone come and see this show?

It’s an unforgettable and unique experience for everyone, as a ‘sonic showcase’. I hope that the audience can join us in our exploration of the meaning of life. Also, as an immersive improvisational performance, the audience plays a significant role. By choosing to upload and construct narratives, or rewriting, repeating or participating in the remaining stories, they engage in dialogues across time and space. Besides, it contains both the hustle and bustle of contemporary art and a melodious live cello accompaniment. It is considered as a thought-provoking performance art, but includes beautiful contemporary dance and ballet movements, too.

Camden Fringe 2023 //  See Life Flash at 4pm and 9pm on Saturday 12th August at Camden People’s Thatre.  Tickets and info here.

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