Having originally been drawn to this piece due to studying works by Fuel Theatre in my Site Specific Performance module at University, I was very intrigued to experience some of their collaborative work at this years’ Fringe Festival. Fuel Theatre are known for producing fresh audio work for adventurous people. During my module, the ones I have taken part in have been their ‘While You Wait’ series, whereby there are short podcasts for people to listen to whilst they are waiting for something. Whether this be waiting for work, public transport, in a queue and so forth. I almost felt like these pieces have the power to completely take you out of the moment you are in and fill you afresh with somewhat of a new outlook on the journey you may have made that day. Described as ‘moving' these pieces are to ‘delight, surprise and intrigue you while you wait.’ If you wish to experience some of these, I have left a link below in order to do so!
'While You Wait' Podcasts: //fueltheatre.com/projects/while-you-wait
Although I knew a little about their work, I still woke up on the Wednesday morning ready to expect the unexpected. After reading their synopsis of being a ‘surreal, immersive audio experience in total darkness’ I was extremely keen to take part and experience first-hand the breath-taking piece that is Fiction. Before I and George got to Pleasance Dome, we had heard through the grapevine that people are given the option to opt out if they feel uncomfortable, putting us in quite a tense position before even entering the auditorium. As we entered, we were given headphones each with a specific number on the side, which was also our allocated seat number. Each audience member are sat a seat apart from each other also, which completely isolates you from everything and everyone around you. Playing peacefully whilst people are coming in is a fairly upbeat musical score to make you feel a little more relaxed and ready for a new experience.
At the beginning, images are shown of a room with certain things in it and a long plain corridor. Text is written in front on a projector which carefully explains that the lights will go off and we will be on a journey with a companion for the next 60 minutes. Then, that is when the darkness strikes. At first I was reluctant to shut my eyes, as I wanted to see how long I could keep them open for. When the voice of a woman was heard, the quality of this 3D sound was insane! I sat upright for a little while and even moved my arms and checked near my bag to see if there was anyone literally whispering around me!! As she kept speaking about relaxing and trusting in her, she kept on repeating ‘close your eyes and let yourself fall deep into your chair’. This companion had such a warm tone that you instantly felt at ease and if she was giving you a night time story. Funny part about this experience for me, is that I can’t particularly remember the middle part of the performance. Yes, this seems extremely bad, however, it feels almost like I was put under some sort of trance. I can remember vague images in my head, like people having conversations and walking down the long corridor I had seen before the lights went off. It was almost as if the audio had enchanted my sleepy mind so much that they were able to control what I was thinking of whilst in a dream-like state… Scary thought right?!
It wasn't until loud bangs at the end that my eyes opened. I could hear these awfully bombarding sounds around me, whilst sat in utter darkness. It was terrifying. Not only this, but the floor began to vibrate and I could smell the thickness of dry ice engulfing me. I honestly felt like I wasn't going to come out that room alive. When the lights sharply turn on, you are then immediately brought back to reality. You aren't alone, you haven't been transported to another world. All is back to normal.
It was a deeply enchanting experience, terrifying, but definitely worth sticking it out! When me and George came out we both felt that we should ask one another what the voice was like on their audio? Was it the same? Did other people shut their eyes? Incredible to see just how poignant a piece of audio and being plunged into darkness is. I would highly recommend this show!