Leviathan: an adventure in sound and space

An academic staging an immersive production of Moby-Dick discusses research and art

July 17, 2014

Source: Angela Alegria

Leviathan: rage and ritual drowning

A Falmouth University academic is staging a new version of Moby-Dick that culminates in “a ritual of communal drowning”.

Klaus Kruse, coordinator of the acting course at Falmouth, is also a poet, performer, songwriter and director. In 2007, while studying for his MA at Dartington College of Arts (now incorporated into the university), he co-founded the Living Structures collective. He now serves as its artistic director.

Living Structures specialises in immersive theatre, using music, puppetry, video and sculpture in what they describe as “multi-media events in mind-baffling environments”. Their first show, Cart Macabre, which began to be developed in 2007, took groups of 32 people on “a nightmare fairground ride” through darkness, with unexpected objects emerging through peepholes, shutters and sliding doors. One critic described the experience as leaving him “both terrifyingly powerless and unexpectedly liberated”.

This was followed by Biosphere in 2009 and now by Leviathan. This was first performed at the Matadero in Madrid in 2012, where it was praised for its “relentless onslaught of manic inventiveness…Beautiful choral singing gives way to strange industrial rhythms, or discordant string notes, or screeching seagulls, or crazed chanting.” It continues at the Hackney Downs Studios in London until 26 July.

As Moby-Dick is a huge book, said Mr Kruse, “we had to be very selective. Basically, a crew of people go on a journey, following Captain Ahab and his rage, who leads them to their doom – and a ritual of communal drowning.” Only 120 people can attend each performance.

In some immersive theatre productions, audience members may wander where they like and so everybody emerges having seen a different show. Mr Kruse prefers spectators to remain where they are while the space is transformed around them, although descending sheets may segregate them into shifting groups and they can decide for themselves to what extent they want to interact with the performers.

Two weeks of development for Leviathan took place at Falmouth’s Academy of Music and Theatre Arts before the team moved to Hackney. Recent graduates and students on work placements are involved in the production alongside the creative core of four long-term collaborators and people brought in especially, including aerialists from France. Mr Kruse believes his creative work often feeds into his teaching, as in a module investigating spatial interaction between audiences and performers.

More important, however, he sees Living Structures as at the heart of his research.

“We are looking at sound,” he explains, “the directionality of sound and how it can be used to open up a space that audiences can enter and experience. We are interested in using space as an active ingredient in storytelling. Much is done in Leviathan through spatial transformation – which takes the audience to a new location or confronts them with a new set of ideas. But it also needs to be fun and engaging. That has to be part of research as well.”

matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

But the highest value UK spin-off companies mainly come from research-intensive universities, latest figures show