Applied Aurality: Noise and the Aesthetics of Access in Graeae's 'Reasons to be Cheerful'

Kendrick, Lynne (2011) Applied Aurality: Noise and the Aesthetics of Access in Graeae's 'Reasons to be Cheerful'. In: Theatre Noise: The Sound of Performance. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, pp. 174-188. ISBN 9781443834407


As co-editor of Theatre Noise, I felt we couldn't produce a this volume without attention to the sound of performance by theatre makers who do not conform to normative concepts of hearing: deaf artists who make theatre, as a culturally defined group as well as with/for the 'hearing audience'. This, this chapter focuses on a form of applied theatre: disabled performance, and will review - or more aptly, rehear - both the art of creating and the act of audience to this form of theatre. The case study in this chapter is Graeae, the UK's foremost disabled theatre company. My focus is on its creative practice that includes sensory and physically disabled artists and in addition embraces integration with non-disabled performers and audiences. This chapter pays attention to the aural strategies and acts of sounding by the deaf artists involved; in the case of 'Reasons to be Cheerful' both director Jenny Sealey and lead actor, Stephen Collins, This is not an analysis of Theatre for the Deaf, nor an attempt to theorise the culture if the non-hearing, but is a series of reflections on the applied aurality of theatre making by these deaf artists that, in turn, offer a reconsideration of the theories of sound and noise in relation to performance. Rather than a 'refusal of intersubjectivity', I argue that the act of sounding by the Deaf is an act of emerging subjectivity which, when considered in relation to theories of noise, is more than readily available to be heard.


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