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Welcome to TaPRA 2019 at the University of Exeter!
EB

Electa Behrens and Øystein Elle

YOU AND ME – AS VOCAL MATERIAL – LISTENING TO THE SPACE BETWEEN
 
Øystein and Electa are bodies and voices on stage. They have similar but different approaches and trainings, ranging from Bel Canto singing to classical text work, extendend vocal technique to the sensuality of sound in the dark where objects and voices meet. Together they will attempt to be present with themselves as vocal material and to entangle with the multiple others present in the space. Through performative experiments including audience invitations, they investigate the dialogue, and the possible construction of meanings, interpretations happening in the meeting between the voicer on one side, and the receiver on the other side; creating feedback loops between present and not present bodies. What happens if listening, rather than sounding, is taken as a dramaturgical or pedagogical starting point? Can it open up for new agencies across materials and the possibility of radical empathy and meeting the other not as ‘personal’ (anthropocentric), but rather as material and processual?

This performance lecture explores listening intersectionally (see Thomaidis 2017): across identities, categories and positionalities of class, ability, race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexuality. It asks the question: if sounding is a practice of intermaterial vibration (Eidsheim 2017), what might a new materialist approach to voicing and listening offer? How do we experience the borders between listening/sounding, as performer with audience and objects or as pedagogue with students? Looking at listening across the range of vocal material, this performance lecture reflects on the plasticity of material, (its ability to flex, to a degree, but also its potential to combust) (Behar, 2016) and the grey areas surrounding topics such as ownership, ethics and appropriation.
Within the larger framework of new materialism and aurality studies, we situate our work between Nancy, Kendrick, Eidsheim, Behar, Gordon-Cook, Bonefant and Oliveros. The lecture’s structure is a dialogue between theory, practice and audience engagement with a good dose of self-irony and deep questioning.
 
Electa Behrens is a voice pedagogue on the staff of the Norwegian Theatre Academy with a focus on the emerging field of vocal composition for the deviser. She teaches ‘pure’ voice, composition, text, voicebody integration, as well as tutoring individual projects. She holds a Practice as Research PhD from Kent University (UK), an MA from Exeter University (UK) and a BA from Vassar College (USA). She has performed with many companies/artists throughout Europe and the USA including Odin Teatret (DK), Richard Schechner (USA), Marina Abramovic (Serbia), Dah Theatre (Serbia), F2 Performance Project (Greece), Saska Rakef (Slovenia), Robin Riegels (formerly of Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards (NO), Instabili Vaganti (IT) and the Centre for Performance Research (Wales). As researcher and practitioner, she has participated in the British Grotowski Network and Britain/Russia, an exchange with the Moscow Arts Theatre School as well as being part of 3 Giving Voice festivals organized by the Centre for Performance Research, Wales. She has published in journals such as Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (Routledge) and the Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies.

Øystein Elle is employed as an associate professor in music and cross-disciplinary composition at Østfold University College. He is educated at the Conservatory of Music at Agder University,(BA) and at HKU University of the Arts in Utrecht, the Netherlands. (MA) In 2017 he completed his artistic driven PhD "Capto Musicae - creating sonic and musical theatre in a contemporary artistic context," focusing on extended vocal and text work in cross-disciplinary composition. He has an eclectic background and approach both as a performer and as a composer, and he is active in many fields within the performing arts. In addition to his practice as a performer of extended vocal work, springing from rock, jazz, contemporary music and punk aesthetics, he has an extensive background as a baroque specialized counter-tenor. As an artist he is regularly touring nationally and internationally. With his own productions, as well as in collaborative (and often cross-cultural) art productions, he is performing, directing as well as being presented as composer in festivals and theatres in Europa, Asia, USA and South America. As a researcher he is currently co-editing an antologi on art meetings and creative processes with young children, as well as being among the authors of the antologi. He is active in several research communities and projects, connected to the art field, as well as to the art-pedagogical field.