The Quiet Volume

by Ant Hampton and Tim Etchells

The Quiet Volume is a whispered, self-generated and 'automatic' performance (Autoteatro) for two at a time, exploiting the particular tension common to any library worldwide; a combination of silence and concentration within which different peoples' experiences of reading unfold.

Two audience members / participants sit side-by-side. Taking cues from words both written and whispered they find themselves burrowing an unlikely path through a pile of books. The piece exposes the strange magic at the heart of the reading experience, allowing aspects of it we think of as deeply internal to lean out into the surrounding space, and to leak from one reader's sphere into another's.

"This now of the page is what grips me - the present moment, this one, summoned here with this arrangement of marks/code, ink/pixels, letters and words."

- Tim Etchells

Notes on The Quiet Volume and Autoteatro by Ant Hampton here

English, German, Spanish, Polish and Dutch versions commissioned and produced by Ciudades Paralelas, an itinerant yet ‘site specific’ performance festival curated by Stefan Kaegi and Lola Arias.

In coproduction with Vooruit Arts Centre, Belgium

All upcoming dates here

Creative production by Katja Timmerberg

'The Quiet Volume', this play by Ant Hampton and Tim Etchells leading a spectator into the world of books, is theatre of a very magical kind. A theatre of the gradual construction of thoughts whilst seeing, listening and reading. A theatre that pulls the world in and around, closer to and into the spectator, by making the very ability to read the world its thematic focus point. (...) It offers a kind of instruction for how to become blind: effectively nothing other than the careful readjustment of sight. Here it works most beautifully, because the direction of viewing or thinking suggested to the spectator via headphones and text always works both internally and externally, focussing on the material objects just as much as on the clusters of thoughts to which they are attached.

  1. -Doris Meierhenrich, Berliner Zeitung, 20.09.2010. original german here

...the feeling of heightened awareness in which every sound is magnified, every movement has increased significance and all words dance with possibility (...) there is a sense that we are all privately running amok in the libraries of our minds.

  1. -Lyn Gardner, The Guardian. Full review here

  2. -

Technically, The Quiet Volume is superb. Etchells and Hampton direct your awareness gently between distinct elements. The track segues softly from ear to eye, the voice that you heard suddenly, seamlessly picked up by the page that you’ve turned. Or else it sweeps from deep introspection to a consideration of those around you. Foreground blurs into background, just as a camera shifts focus. This motion, forward and backwards like a the smooth jerks of a jellyfish, provides a vital sense of journey. From our position, seated and still, we are allowed to roam: a sendentary safari of a municipal space.

The Quiet Volume feels to me both a treasure and a tool. It will leave you desperate to fall into a good book.

  1. -Matt Trueman, Culture Wars. Full review here

Multiple language versions available - info here

Full credits for all versions here