The recorded-acted word, as opposed to the live-acting word, lives in its own defined space of premeditation. This is not taking into account the possible visual aspects of the acted word. In a sense the only differences sensually would be the audio speakers. If while at a live theatrical piece, one which is amplified through audio speakers by any means to the extent where I would be unable to distinguish any of the dialogue whatsoever from the actors on the stage, but only through the speakers; if I close my eyes and only hear that through the audio system, I am more or less listening to recorded music and speech. I must draw the distinction at the point where what is done live can be exactly reproduced in a set of headphones. In explicitly technical terms, live acted-word-amplified is pre-recorded, as it is passed through a recording and redistribution mechanism to the hearer without any vestige left from the original speaker’s voice, the source.
This leads one directly to the question of how necessary is the speaker’s voice to the fundamental live presence that separates theatre from film, just as considering how necessary peripheral vision is leads one to question the separation of live theatre from live television broadcasts, especially live television broadcasts of live theatre. For even in that situation the built in chaos of live performance and its standard by-product of a unique and unrepeatable representation remains. There the only difference is the peripheral vision, and the sound. The framing and the sound in this day and age are all that separates live theatre from film and television as two separate arts. Of course going to a theatre is an event in itself quite separate from sitting on your couch, but even this is essentially framing.
What I am attempting to do finds its origins in the thought above. I will take a fairly typical realistic scene from Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, the opening scene, to be precise, and direct and block it as a typical piece. The spoken lines of the actors will be entirely pre-recorded from the last rehearsal of the scene, and played over the presentation with the actors performing all characterizations as before, except not actually voicing the words. In essence I will be fabricating as close as possible the side effect of amplified theatre, but in a way so as to isolate it and study its effects. Interspersed throughout the scene will be sections where the actors will override the pre-recorded soundtrack and the lines will be vocalized to create a contrast between nothing but the sound quality of the dialogue. It is this specific contrast in which I am interested.
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