Boris Vian’s The Empire Builders, by Kwasha! Theatre Company, is an audio experience produced by an exceptional team of creatives, presented by the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), and the Market Laboratory.
The binaural audio play, which takes the shape of three episodes of 20 minutes each, will be available as a free and open access online experience via http://www.empirebuildersinsa.org throughout the month of February 2021. It’s an ideal way to enjoy a theatre play despite the current lockdown restrictions.
With sound captured and designed by celebrated sound designer Yogin Sullaphen, the piece promises to create a crisp and exciting world to take the audience on a journey within their own imaginations. The process of directing such a play has been quite experimental for director Dintshitile Mashile, as the recording took place on a real theatre stage, with actors performing in costumes. The actors’ movements, choreography, props and sound effects enhance the audiences imagination. The binaural recording gives audiences a sense of the space and dimension with sound recorded by two microphones and transmitted separately into each ear.
“The play as an audio production presents us with an opportunity to give audiences at home some much needed entertainment as the lockdown restrictions continue. We hope that this will be something that safely adds to our audiences’ days at home”, says Rudy Motseatsea, manager for the Kwasha! Theatre Company.
An absurd and burlesque tragedy
The Empire Builders is an Absurdist tragi-comedy based on playwright Boris Vian’s childhood experience of the Nazi occupation; and written at a time when French colonialism in African and Asian territories was coming to an end. The play tells the story of a middle class family that is threatened by an unusual noise, forcing the family members to ascend through their apartment building to progressively smaller rooms, leaving behind all the comforts they once enjoyed while maintaining a façade of calm and denial.
“The play addresses themes such as alienation, selfishness, self-deception, prejudice, memory, masculinity, and the incomprehensibility of existence and meaning,” explains director and Kwasha! Theatre Company member, Dintshitile Mashile.
The website release includes an image gallery with documentation of the process as well as stills from the production by Oscar Gutierrez. Audiences are encouraged to simply listen or browse the production stills to enhance their experience of the world created with The Empire Builders. Listeners can enjoy the three episodes all at once, or come back to the experience in episodes.
What: The Empire Builders
Find out more: Here