A pervasive theatre work by duncan speakman: ‘What happens when everybody in the city is listening to the same song...’

You travel alone across the city wearing headphones and a handheld computer. An evocative soundtrack fills your ears and turns the world around you into a personal cinema. Suddenly a stranger stops you, their lips don’t move but you can hear their voice in your ears. It feels like telepathy as they begin to speak the words to the song that’s playing in their head... You continue to move across the city, sometimes guided, sometimes alone; as events unfold around you it becomes harder to tell which are real...

‘my world is empty without you’ is a mixture of live performance and pervasive media technology. It draws on works such as ‘you the city by Fiona Templeton and the invisble theatre of Augusto Boal. Part love song, part advocacy, it explores ideas of both isolation and intimate connections in the age of personal media. It gives audiences a chance to reflect on the impact of mobile technology in shared social spaces, while threading together a narrative from the poetics of the everyday.

Although there are a number of scenes played out by other performers;the soundtrack and structure gives the city the opportunity to perform for itself. As the piece continues the audience start seeing everyone in the city wearing headphones as part of this cinematic world, and even the smallest (unstaged) events happening on the streets become part of the work.

The technology for this work was built using Hewlett Packard’s mScape software, performers carried small wireless transmitters with which they could play recordings of their voice in the audience’s headphones. The text was drawn from the lyrics of ‘my world is empty without you’, originaly performed by The Supremes.

My World is Empty Without You was originally commissioned as part of Mayfest 2008 and developed at the Pervasive Media Studio. The first version of this work and sold out all of it’s performances. Performers were drawn from a mixture of the Bristol performance and media community, many of whom collaborated on the development of the work.

This project was redeveloped in 2009 with new composers (inc. Sadie Anderson) and performers collaborating on the project, this time it's relocated to the streets of Clifton. 'My World...' will continue to investigate how mobile technology can facilitate the creation of 'invisible theatre' in public spaces.


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