Gobbledegook THEATRE | Lorna Rees
A sound art interactive folk ritual to celebrate the rock cycle.
Igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary.
Even rocks don't last forever.
Geophonic is a site-responsive performance piece and sound walk, encouraging audiences to listen to the geological processes of the Earth. It is a piece about the Anthropocene and of remembering that humans are part of nature.
We hear geology all the time, but we might not realise that we are doing so. Geophonic is intended as a promenade, conceived for urban/city and coastal/rural environments, near to a body of water.
We want people to listen to the processes of the Earth and dynamic erosion of both wind and water on rocks and to notice how it shapes our landscapes even during our short lifetimes – and how these can be heard in any landscape. Audiences will use beautiful hand-spun aluminium geophones (created by a team of exceptional Dorset-based makers) - to listen to different points on a guided ritualistic journey.
Some of the sonic content will be naturally occurring, some will be made by human voice and others with augmented sound and field recording. The music is inspired by British folk, psychedelic funk and 90s rural rave culture.
We’re interested in the physical narratives of rock, sci-fi and geology on a human scale. It is a work hugely bound up in notions of custodianship of the natural world.
You can hear more about the science behind this project on our 45-minute PODCAST with Lorna Rees talking to Dr Anjana Khatwa and music by Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne and Laura Reid as they walk the route for the premiere performance in Symondsbury for the Inside Out Dorset Festival.
GEOPHONIC will be touring in 2022 - our tour pack is here: GEOPHONIC TOUR PACK
Produced by Activate Performing Arts (Activate), producers of Inside Out Dorset.
GEOPHONIC is funded by Jerwood Arts and Arts Council England with support from the Arts University Bournemouth ERDF innovation programme.
Igneous (Pumice): Martin Bonger
Metamorphic (Gneiss): Remi Oriogun-Williams
Sedimentary (Chalk): China Blue Fish
Sedimentary (Coal): Lorna Rees
Mineral (Quartz): Louise Wilcox
Processional Lead: Adam Coshan
Creator and Director: Lorna Rees
Costume Design: Adele Keeley
Earth Scientist & Collaborator: Dr Anjana Khatwa
Sound and Music: Matthew Shaw, Laura Reid, Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne and Ricci Riccardi
Assistant Design and Costume Creation: Sarah Dicks
Rock Head-dresses: Darrell Wakelam
Digital Textile Creation: Becca Stevenson and Charlotte Baxter
Geophone Product Design Consultant: Liam O’Brien
Geophone Fabrication: Ben Bailey (Metal Spinning Direct), Julian Hoare and Jason Holloway (Ferndown Finishing)
Photography: Jayne Jackson
Podcast: Joanne Tyler (SoNiche)
Huge thanks to all at Activate Performing Arts and Inside Out Dorset, Lucy Devall at AUB, Simon Chatterton and Danielle Corbishley at 101 Creation Space, Outdoor Arts UK, Colin Penny from Studio 39 (Grandad), and Alex and Chris Rees (my Mum and Dad). A note of thanks to all the extraordinary experts I have met and interviewed to make this piece - particularly the Earth Scientists, Folk Enthusiasts and Environmentalists, who have inspired me to ask questions, stay curious and remain weird.
Finally to my sons Dylan and Rufus Rees-Coshan and partner Adam Coshan who allow me to drag them across county and country to countless standing stones, strange tiny geological museums and indulge my numerous earth-science related or folk obsessions. You are my rock and my touchstones.
Descriptors of Ritual Observances
Sounds: Eruption from Fagradalsfjall volcano, Iceland, 2021 and silica bonds breaking and reforming in lava flow, Hawaii.
Sound: biophony - Coal forming in a Carboniferous swamp 300 million years ago.
Sound collected in the 3000 year old Boleigh Fougou and Lamorna Cove, Cornwall. Ritual places, old in human scale. Sound design based on paleo record.
The formation of Metamorphic rock by heat and pressure
Chalk’s lament for a billion micro-organisms
The Hutton’s Unconformity Scottish reel with intruding Quartz
Music: Down by the Riverside, folk tune, collected in West Milton two miles from Symondsbury, performed on the Anglo-concertina by Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, with intervals of wave sound from Hengistbury Head, Dorset (South West England) and Hikkaduwa beach (South West Sri Lanka)
Sound: geophony – the geological processes of river and sea. sound collected from Hengistbury Head, Dorset, a stream at Lamorna Cove, and the rivers Stour and Avon, Christchurch (where two rivers meet - ancient name Tweoxneam/Twynham)
Hydrophonic: Music composed and performed by Laura Reid. sound collected from bodies of water in Dorset, including the river Simene which runs through the Symondsbury landscape
Sound: geophony – the geological processes of weathering. rain and wind and storm. Sound collected from Elizabeth Avenue, Christchurch and Mole Arthur, Wales.
Song: The coal owner and the Pitman’s Wife, a song written by William Hornsby from1844, Derby.
Sound: anthrophony and geology – sound collected from coal mines in Yorkshire, South Wales and Cumbria. Coal-face sole pickaxe from 1944, Kent.
Final processional route, led by Metamorphic Rock, (the rock type that best symbolises profound change) and placing of the geophones on the meander of posts
Music: Standing on Shakey Ground, The Temptations (90s rave remix by Ricci Riccard)
For we are all standing on Shakey ground
This is a video of Master Craftsman Ben Bailey, who has made the 90 Geophones required for Geophonic - each one hand-spun from aluminium.
The type of aluminium we’re using is largely recycled material which can then eventually be recycled after use (which is a key element for all of our design and making process). Aluminium comes from Bauxite, a sedimentary rock and the third most mined mineral in the world.
On some profound level that metal comes from rock is sort of astonishing as is the science behind extraction. And it can be deeply destructive too.
Ben describes the process of metal spinning as a sort of ‘sideways pottery’. There was a time that metal spinners would have worked in long lines of twenty or thirtry people - but now it’s a rare skill, a craft in which Ben is a master.
He’s been spinning for 30 years, has run his own business for the past ten and is based in a workshop in Christchurch, Dorset, near to our company base.
You can see more of Ben's work @metalspinningdirect
Louise Wilcox is a multidisciplinary theatre maker and artist. She trained on the MA Theatre Lab at RADA and has since worked extensively as a performer in physical/devised theatre alongside developing her own artistic work.As a performer, Louise has worked with several companies and toured extensively nationally and internationally. This includes The Nature of Forgetting with Theatre Re and multiple projects with Flabbergast Theatre. Louise is an Associate Artist with Dirty Rascals, and her personal work increasingly includes a strong element of participation. Louise is currently developing The Mendfulness Clinic - a piece that challenges the culture of fast fashion by mending the relationship we have to our clothes.
Remi Oriogun-Williams is an actor and theatre-maker. She trained for two years at the Jacques Lecoq International School of Theatre in Paris. She has toured the UK acting in The Cause, an original production about suffragism with Dreadnought Southwest. She has also performed with other companies in the UK and France. This includes an immersive production with Angel Exit Theatre in Dorchester and interactive street theatre at the Philoscène Festival with Bête à bon dieu production in Paris. She acted in the first UK production of Ezra Pound’s Elektra at the Corpus Playrooms. Whilst studying for her Philosophy degree at Cambridge, she devised and acted in a play for the Miscellaneous Theatre festival and co-directed a production of Henry IV. She has devised and performed for a Sound-art project called OK Galexa. Remi grew up in London and Dorset and is inspired by creating theatre collaboratively.
China Blue Fish is a queer artist, activist, singer and mother committed to shining a light on injustice and elevating imagination through music, comedy and theatre. You can find more about her work at www.chinabluefish.com
Martin Bonger is artistic director of Move to Stand (The Collision of Things, Fat Man, Messenger, This Crossing). He is a core member of The Plasticine Men, where he co-created Keepers, There Shall be Fireworks & Engine Break. He regularly collaborates with NIE having created North North North, Around the World in 80 Days, Beauty and the Beast, Tales from the Edge of Town & The Snow Queen. He has worked with Complicité (The Magic Flute, Khovanschina R&D) , Concert Theatre, Wonderful Beast, Lost & Found, and has worked on numerous plays for Radio 4. He trained at the Workshop Theatre in Leeds (BA Hons in English & Theatre) and then at the physical theatre school LISPA. He's based in Bristol.
Adam Coshan trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and has had a varied career as writer, director and educator. In 2007 he set up Gobbledegook Theatre with his partner Lorna Rees and together they have taken performance and installation work all over the UK. Adam is an education specialist and has a long history of socially engaged practice and participative work, particularly with young people. Recent new work has included writing the permanent voice exhibit in collaboration with English Heritage for Clifford's Tower, York.
music and sounD
Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne is best known for work energetic folk trio Granny’s Attic, Cohen is a singer and instrumentalist with a love of English music. Cohen plays melodeons and anglo concertina and is a powerful singer with a string of awards and nominations under his belt, including a nomination for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Horizon Award in 2018. Expect traditional English folk songs and tunes along with a few original numbers.
Laura Reid is a composer and cellist whose music fuses instrumental, vocal and pre-recorded sounds. Commissions include a geolocated sound walk for Dynamic Dunescapes in Studland 2021, Icthyosaur for Tabla and String Quartet at CoMA Festival 2020, a Variation for Fenella Humphrey’s Caprice project (Rubicon Classics 2021) Song of Isis for Tete a tete Festival 2020 and Celestial Bodies for the Dorset Moon performed to over 1,500 members of the public in 2019. Laura has performed at festivals including New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME), Womad, Glastonbury and Celtic Connections. Sessions include Later with Jools Holland (Tom Mcrae), Mercury Music Prize (Kathryn Williams) and MTV. Collaborations include: Steven Legget – Bathhouse, album released on Firecracker Records 2018, featured on Andrew Weatherall’s NTS radio show in January 2020, and Optic Echo, X-ray FM in Portland USA and on Mercury nominated album Little Black Numbers (Caw1999). Works have also been performed by Kokkorro (BSO), London Sinfonietta and Ensemble Eleven. Co-writes have been published by Warner Bros. synched to TV and featured on international radio and TV. www.laurareid.co.uk
Matthew Shaw is a composer, author and artist. Currently working with Shirley Collins & Brian Catling on Crowlink. An EP was released in July 2021 by Domino Recordings. The Crowlink audio installation premiered the Barbican followed by a week at Charleston house in Sussex. Atmosphere of Mona, a book of poetry and photography was published by Annwyn House in 2020
design AND SCIENCE
Adele Keeley is a costume designer, theatre collaborator and Senior Lecturer in Performance Design at the Arts University Bournemouth. Adele’s work is often informed by environmental issues, landscape and nature. She has worked on a wide range of landscape-inspired outdoor theatre projects often collaborating with Lorna Rees. Her work has been seen at various national and international performance festival. She describes her design work as visual gateway to which audience can connect with themes of nature, the environment and the world around us. See more of her work at www.site33.co.uk. Adele was a trustee for Activate Performing Arts for many years and is actively involved in the outdoor arts community in the region.
Dr Anjana Khatwa is a multi-award-winning Earth Scientist. She is a time traveller using clues locked away in rocks, fossils and landscapes to reveal the hidden mysteries and stories about ancient life on earth. She helps people to understand how our planet evolved, changed and survived over 4.6 billion years and how this knowledge can help us prepare for an uncertain future. Anjana weaves her identity as a South Asian woman proudly into her work, bringing an informed and intelligent richness to narratives about deep time, landscapes and natural history. https://www.anjanakhatwa.com