Premiere: Folkestone Sunny Sands Beach, March 2021 (Date TBC)
Beacons is a site-specific, ritualistic, experimental choral performance within a sound responsive light installation created by audiences. Beacons is a response to the climate crisis and is performed on beaches in coastal communities. The performance event is the culmination of a wide game; the final part of a story that builds several months beforehand through a treasure hunt in the local landscape and community, and an integrated website that allows participants to contribute towards the visual and sounding parts of the performance event.
Performance materials: 6 singers, megaphones, custom portable horn amplifiers, choreographed movement. Treasure hunt: Interactive Beacons website, treasure maps, sea gooseberries featuring responsive technology.
In 2019 a period of research and development took place to develop the light and sound technologies, musical ideas, and interactive treasure hunt that form Beacons. Help Musicians UK Creative Programme, Kent County Council Arts Investment Fund and Arts Council England funded research and development surrounding the development of light and sound technology and musical composition ideas. We are currently applying for funding to scale the work into a 30-minute live performance, with a premier performance on Folkestone’s Sunny Sands beach in March 2021.
Beacons is a collaborative artwork conceived by Alison Neighbour.
- Lead artist, creating visual world, gooseberries and treasure maps: Alison Neighbour.
- Composer: Emily Peasgood
- Interactive technologist and web designer: Tarim
- Full stack developer and creative technologist: Ellie Foreman
- Producer: Kevin Grist of Sparked Echo
- Engagement producer: Ruby Bolton
- Sound engineer: Matt Smyth
Research & Development
Beacons is a response to the climate crisis and invites audiences to connect with each other and nature. Beacons commences with a treasure hunt in the landscape surrounding a beach community. A few months prior to each performance event, treasure maps can be found on the Beacons website and are distributed in the local community. At each treasure location, a wooden box can be found containing a glowing sea gooseberry and instructions about how to contribute words and ideas to the performance event.
On the day of the performance, the gooseberries glow brighter and participants bring them to the beach, forming a collective light installation that 6 singers perform in and around. The singers move in choreographed movement, amplified by portable megaphones and horns, inviting audiences to move with them.
As a composer, this is a challenging work as: the way singers move, the way in which participants and contribute words and ideas, the environment, and the technology utilised to amplify singers are integral to the composition process. As part of the research and development that took place in 2019, I created three composition ideas that feature ancient languages, extended vocal techniques, and rhythmic layers and textures I hope will inspire a sense of community and connection with nature at the performance event. In February 2020 a site test took place on Sunny Sands beach in Folkestone to trial methods for amplifying singers, and explore the feasibility of performing what is a complex choral work and choreographed movement on the beach. A scaled down performance with three singers took place: Nina Clark, Richard Navarro and myself and a small audience invited to provide feedback. The outcome has enabled us to reconsider the technology used to amplify singers, resulting in a more natural, portable and eco-friendly approach that supports the works conceptual aim. We are currently applying for funding to develop and scale the final work for its premiere in 2021.
In January 2020 I spent some time with The Burning Hell and Phoebe Kreutz in Riofreddo Italy. They kindly leant their voices to this demo, which demonstrates initial ideas that may feature in the work.