Avant-Garde Theatre Sound: Staging Sonic Modernity by Adrian Curtin (auth.)

By Adrian Curtin (auth.)

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Silence also functioned as an aesthetic ideal for symbolists because it promised reduced engagement with the distractions of the everyday world and a possible entry into a more elevated zone of personal and spiritual contemplation. 5) shows a wan, somewhat androgynous, airy figure (Khnopff ’s sister, Margeurite) with a far-off look. The figure wears what seems to be a nightdress (intimating sleep) or a smock of some sort (intimating work) and holds a gloved finger to her lips. The drawing’s signification is ambiguous.

This chapter investigates eclectic examples of affective, noisy soundscapes in modernist avant-garde performance, situating this activity in the context of contemporaneous attitudes toward silent spectatorship and noise reduction in theatre and society. Performances discussed include the rowdy soundscapes of Italian futurist serate (theatrical “evenings”) and dada cabaret; the explosive poetry performances of Richard Huelsenbeck and F. T. Marinetti; Antonin Artaud’s cacophonous sound design for his 1935 production of The Cenci; and Arseny Avraamov’s mass concert Sinfoniia Gudkov (The Symphony of Sirens), which took place in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1922.

Do you hear the nightingales? THE UNCLE: Yes, yes. THE DAUGHTER: A little wind is rising in the avenue. THE GRANDFATHER: A little wind in the avenue? THE DAUGHTER: Yes; the trees are trembling a little. THE UNCLE: I am surprised that my sister is not here yet. THE GRANDFATHER: I cannot hear the nightingales any more. THE DAUGHTER: I think that someone has come into the garden, grandfather. THE GRANDFATHER: Who is it? THE DAUGHTER: I do not know; I can see no one. THE UNCLE: Because there is no one there.

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