Now in its 12th year, the Shift Festival is returning to its roots with three short original works spotlighting diverse and underrepresented voices.
Among the trio of shows to be presented each evening at The Annex in downtown Vancouver on July 11 through July 13 is Sound Off!.
Developed by local multidisciplinary creator Claire Love Wilson and queer theatre-maker and musician Sara Vickruck, Sound Off! investigates how the transformation of sounds, live and looped, can be constructed and deconstructed into song.
In the first of our Q&As with the artists at this year’s Shift Festival, we find out more from Wilson and Vickruck about Sound Off!
This interview has been edited.
Tell us about Sound Off!. What can audiences expect?
Two women on stage creating music with two loop pedals, two microphones and an audience. Our piece uses sound to engage the audience in a collective creative experience, where we explore the notion of community through sonic play.
Why present your show at the Shift Festival?
Shift festival’s theme this year is “Fierce Truth-telling in the Here and Now”, which speaks to a level of presence and vulnerability needed to create improvised musical work. Having worked with Coco [Roberge] previously, we felt that the Shift platform would be a safe and nurturing environment within which to take bold risks and experiment with a new form of theatre.
What has been challenging in bringing Sound Off! to life on stage?
Sound Off! is the result of Claire and Sara’s desire to collaborate in an innovative musical way. Drawing off the practice of song-walking, we began developing a process that investigates our relationship between our bodies and the environment through sound. Rather than working with a script we invented a series of sound games that we’ve structured into a full piece.
Our piece relies heavily on an audience, so a main challenge is rehearsing without an audience present, and trying to anticipate a plethora of circumstances and possible responses. Another challenge is the technical nuance of working across two loop pedals which involves a lot of attention to detail and timing.
Who is going to love Sound Off!?
People who are curious, like to play and are open to audience interaction. Our audience can expect to be surprised, feel a sense of wonder, and leave with a new perspective around creating sound.
What is going to surprise people about Sound Off!?
We are working in a unique way, where we are creating improvised music with an audience across two loop pedals. A loop pedal allows you to record and infinitely loop sounds, and it’s uncommon to see this tool used in theatre and with multiple performers. Our inspiration for sound will be sourced directly from the audience, and what we create together will be unexpected for everyone involved.
Why should someone come see Sound Off!?
Because Sound Off! is largely improvised, it will never occur the same way twice. It’s an opportunity for an expansive and intimate experience. The show is fun, playful, and uplifting.
The 12th annual Shift Festival plays The Annex (823 Seymour St, Vancouver) on July 11 through July 13. Visit shifttheatre.ca for tickets and information.