live scripted performance | 1995

Duration approximately 90 minutes

Sampler is a series of soundscapes. The five colour-coded performers feel their way around an empty space. A keyboard player watches the action from the auditorium and plays all the sounds live  in response to the signals from the performers on the stage. There are no physical objects on the stage. Imaginary spaces are evoked by over seven thousand audio cues played throughout the performance.

The performers watch each other and learn a sequence of movements for opening a door into another space. They explore and negotiate their environment through a series of movements that resemble superstitious rituals that have to be repeated by every new performer on entering the space. The movements are not gestures, or mimes but codes that seem to be found by trial and error. Alarm clocks need to be silenced; a baby has to be stopped from crying.

At different times the sounds suggested a cavernous hall, an intimate room with a carpet, a garden with a pond, a shingle beach, a snowy wasteland. Actions were discovered that allowed them to travel, to go through imaginary doors into different spaces or ‘cut’ to another location. The performance created a feeling of claustrophobia in an open space. Two performers could be standing side by side on the stage, but occupying completely different fictional places, isolated and alone.

Performed by Emma Bernard, Gareth Brierley, Rachel Capell, Martin Jones and Gary Stevens.
Sound design: Kate Tierney.
Sound assistant and sampler operator: Gus Ferguson.
Lighting design: Beth Hardisty

Appeared at The Geist Banana Warehouse, Nottingham; Barclays New Stages and LIFT, ICA, London 1995. Funded by Arts Council of Great Britain, New Commissions Project Grant and Barclays New Stages.

“They experiment, prodding and poking at each other, producing static signals, creaks, mechanical squeaks. The sounds become more specific and suddenly each performer is on a creaking plank: a move in the wrong direction and there is a sampled cry, a pause, an then a muddy slurp. Of course! It’s a game, and each ‘dead’ player is ‘out’, but the players have to work out the rules for themselves. A disembodied voice provides instructions and ‘help’ on request, like a live action computer game… it’s a fascinatingly quirky, original, and ultimately slightly chilling experience.”
The Independent