Theatrical Piece

The Encounter, the binaural masterpiece designed by Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin

Gareth Fry (left) and Pete Malkin

Gareth Fry (left) and Pete Malkin

London 11:00 AM. I'm about to discover The Encounter and get a look behind the scenes at this unique opus in one of the most iconic theaters in the British capital, the Barbican. The press is unanimous: it is as disconcerting as it is captivating, and the 600 headphones that act as the sound system are the proof of that.

We have an appointment with Gareth Fry and Peter Malkin, the two sound designers of this work, and with the ASD – Association of Sound Designers. This English community brings together professionals in audio and sound design, particularly those who work in the effervescent world of English theatre.

Driven by an admirable ethic, this association promotes sharing knowledge among its members and mutual assistance, whether in terms of hardware, consulting, training, or all three!
It is very active, and offers a little benevolent humanity on "planet showbiz", populated by many freelancers who, as they are always holding their noses to the grindstone, don't get to exchange much and seldom have the opportunity to meet with one another.

The members of ASD who had the opportunity to attend this presentation, a great bunch of people

The members of ASD who had the opportunity to attend this presentation, a great bunch of people

The reason for our little morning appointment is a behind the scenes tour of the latest theatrical UFO of the Complicite company, directed by and starring the talented Simon McBurney: "The Encounter".
A one man sound show, a binaural stand up, it's impossible to classify... a UFO then, but mostly the result of five years of work by the sound designer Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin. We'd like to share with you an interview with Gareth, at the bottom of the page... saving the best for last ☺

I invite you to put on headphones and enjoy this trailer:

A truly original theatrical success

It feels more like a studio than a theater

It feels more like a studio than a theater

This work is also the result of a technical performance, both in the design and in the "interpretation" by the two sound engineers who mix the sounds of the show.
It is a technical feat. Corroborating this last statement is the fact that there are more mix engineers on this production than actors!
To enjoy this production, you need to put on one of the almost 600 headphones installed in the stands of the Barbican. So, there's not much to see, but a lot to hear!
In fact, the stage is bare. In the middle of the stage we see the famous Neumann binaural microphone system, KU 100. The distant wall, a massive absorption area of over 100 square meters, provides some reassurance (professionally speaking) and clearly sets the tone...

Binaural technology

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