”The Piece Has Challenged the Customary Habits of Making Work” – The working group’s thoughts on the making of Listening

Listening, a co-production between Live Art Society (Esitystaiteen seura), Kiasma Theatre and TTT-Theatre (Tampereen Työväen Teatteri) premiered on 29th September 2020. I interviewed the working group on the background of the piece and the artistic process.

What motivated you to make Listening?

Joel Teixeira Neves (Director): Human communication and interaction, often a little tricky, interest me. In my art I want to address a crisis of sorts I perceive there to be in communication currently. I think it broadly as something that exists between all that is. I want to reflect upon how to enter the moment of interaction truly open and really listening, able to interact not only with humans but with the surrounding world.     

Kiasma-teatteri, esityskuva Kuunteleminen | Photo Kansallisgalleria | Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

Silvia Belghiti (Performer): For me it has been new and particularly interesting, how the work process and the piece have been constructed without the latter being based on narrative drama.

Johannes Vartola (Sound Designer): The piece has allowed me to rethink sound. For me, the baseline for the piece was like a blank canvas or a terrain where it was possible to move more freely than usual. From the outset I was intrigued by the significance multisensoriality has in the piece, and also how from the start the working groups’ experience was central to the process.

Samuli Laine (Scenographer): The beginning was interesting because everything was so open. That enabled us to really think collectively about the theme and what interests us within it, instead of a clearly director led process.

What challenges have you faced?

Johannes:  I still find sound as a multisensory experience challenging. From the sound’s standpoint the piece could be made in any number of ways.  

Joel: For me it was a challenge to have the courage to live with such an incomplete concept. I knew the initial ingredients were interesting, but that they weren’t enough as such. Once again the process has proven that there is no set way to make a piece, but that it needs to be relearnt every time.

Silva: In the beginning I was nervous about how you would understand my world. It has also been a challenge for me as a performer to work on a circular stage surrounded by the audience. Plus, relatively dark lighting design is always a bit complicated for a sign language speaker.

Samuli: The piece branched out in multiple directions for a long time, which was both a challenge and a source of inspiration.

What new artistic discoveries have you made?

Joel:  I believe that in this process I’ve been able to be really open and I’ve succeeded in listening to others. It’s been wonderful to work with true pros, as that’s made it possible to leave certain decisions to be made quite late. The piece has incubated peacefully and I’ve had the opportunity to be a gentle director, so to speak.

Silva:  As I mentioned earlier, for me there have been a number of new elements, including the audience seating arrangements and how the piece doesn’t follow a traditional theatrical dramaturgy.

Samuli:  In this process there’s been time to reflect on the circumstansial nature of performance. How a performance is an environment that is entered and that has an impact on you. What is the role of visuality when listening is the focal point? How can I create a space, where it is possible for the spectator to be open and willing to be impressed? How to make the spectator settle into the world the piece creates? These are the questions I’ve asked myself. It’s also been extremely interesting how porous the working itself has been, and how each one’s impulses have had an influence on what the piece is.  

Kiasma-teatteri, esityskuva Kuunteleminen | Photo Kansallisgalleria | Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

Johannes: It’s in my nature as a maker to happily expose myself to learning something new. This piece has notably challenged all customary habits. Especially the amount of bass was initially frightening. As to the group process, it’s been interesting to notice the presence of sign language as if having a calming and clarifying effect on communication. For example, the volume of a speaker’s voice hasn’t had the weight in decision making it often carries in group situations. I’ve also learnt to work with an interpreter, hardly noticing it anymore. We’ve made quite a journey from the confusion at the first meeting.

Does the process leave you with something you’d like to explore further?

Silva: Everything! All the multisensoriality and especially how light influences signing.

Joel: I’m still fascinated by how much information there is in a sign, how one’s relationship to a sign can change during a performance or how within a performance an attitude towards concepts can shift.

Johannes: I’m interested in the beautiful possibility of a multilingual synthesis. It’s what we’ve experimented with a little, but there’s ample room for further exploration.

Veera Lamberg

The author is a dance artist and producer of ”Listening”. In the process she has had the opportunity to challenge the traditional role of a producer, acting also as choreographic support and co-thinker from time to time. Being present during the rehearsal period, more than what is usual, Lamberg has been able to examine ways in which a producer with a strong understanding of the artistic process can support and enhance the group’s work.

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Listening

29.09.2020 – 03.10.2020

The performance guides spectators to experience the sound.

Tue 29 September at 19:00 (premiere ) FULL
Wed 30 September at 19:00
Thu 1 October at 19:00
Fri 2 October at 19:00
Sat 3 October at 15:00
Kiasma Theatre

Tickets 18/15e
Ticket includes admission to exhibitions on the day of the performance

Limited audience. Please wear a mask during the event. Performed in sign language, subtitles in Finnish and English.

Note! Loud sounds in the performance.

About the performance

Kuunteleminen (EN: listening) is a guide to frequencies from 0-100kHz. Frequencies that easily disappear between people. Frequencies that resonate in the body, but rarely in the inner ear. Silva Belghiti will be your guide to this tour.

Working group

Actress: Silva Belghiti
Director: Joel Teixeira Neves
Sound designer: Johannes Vartola
Scenographer: Samuli Laine
Costume design: Iines Kalliala
Producer: Veera Lamberg/ Live Art Society
Visuals: Samuli Laine
Production: Live Art Society, Kiasma Theatre and Tampereen Työväen Teatteri

Silva Belghiti is a 31-year-old director and actor. Belghiti is the first sign language speaking (mother tongue) person graduating from the Theatre Academy of Uniarts Helsinki. During her studies and after graduation in 2018, Belghiti has directed and performed in productions at Teatteri Totti. Belghiti speaks seven different sign languages and has performed with VisualVoice band. In 2018, Kynnys ry. awarded Belghiti with a culture prize Vimma.