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Dark Matter

Visuals by Gisela Mulindwa, Dark Matter has been performed at The Roundhouse, Theatre Peckham and the Vault Festival

On the show:

Early versions of this work started in 2017, resurrected and remade around three or so times, with our collaboration continuing in other projects taken on by director/performer/writer Tatenda Matsvai that often followed similar themes, but crossed into film and live music. From so many opportunities to explore having been taken, the stakes felt high here. 

 The goal of the sound of this show was to try and balance a sense of huge scale (in terms of time and space), while also creating a sense of intimacy and internal dialogue with the performer and audience. We wanted to try and break down this binary.


This led to the manipulation of recordings from Nasa’s Mars Rover and other deep space recordings to present a ‘dark matter’ liminal space. In the 360 degree speaker set up in our tunnel venue, combining these sounds and presenting them with no explanation felt eerie, and blended well with the vibrations of trains passing overhead. 


Alongside sounds of space, material from Tatenda’s family was recorded, alongside traditional Shona instruments such as the Hosho and Mbira played by Tatenda. We also looked for intimacy in the inclusion of club music, taking inspiration from playlists created by Pussy Palace, the setting of key scenes. 


With the access to surround sound and an audience sat either side of our performer, we were finally able to nail this idea we’d had years ago, of immersing the audience in darkness, using sound as a set. This left room to experiment with immersive sound:


How to create biblically accurate rain: imagine a tunnel with a row of five speakers either side across the length of an audience sat either side. Using 3-6 recordings of rain, place the closest/most immediate sounding recording in the center row of speakers, and the more distant sounds further away from the center. The slightly damp smell of the tunnel left this effect with audience members looking around, wondering if they could complain about the weather.


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