An Exercise in Making Noise
A review of The Foley Explosion by Elena Maria Piech
Through spinning her finger on a wine glass, a children’s toy, and creating clicking noises with her shoes, Julie Rose Bower records and loops audio to create the unified sound of a cuckoo clock. Rose Bower uses advanced audio recording techniques and everyday sounds to create a theatre experience that combines spoken word and imagination to tell a series of separate stories about Russia.
Foley is a sound recording technique used whenever a prerecorded sound effect is synched with a sound featured in a film. These sound artists might record their new noises on a Foley stage, which can store items such as empty cans, different sized shoes, and metal bowls. Rose Bower’s Foley stage consisted of four different pairs of shoes, children’s toys, wine glasses, a heart monitor, and several other items. Foley Explosion is part of The Yard Theatre’s NOW ’17 Festival, an annual festival to promote new performance artists.
Rose Bower is an emerging theatre maker who attempted to use sound to enhance her short and unrelated stories about Russia. At first her performance felt captivating. Audiences had the change watch Rose Bower’s foot stomp and then have that sound transform into a set of foot prints walking down a hallway. Although audience members could easily imagine how Rose Bower’s amalgamation of sounds could transform into creating whatever audio atmosphere she desired, the ability to transform sound did not necessarily translate into progress for her stories. It appeared that Rose Bower broke up her act into three parts. The first detailed her trip to Russia, the second seemed to describe an American traitor in Russia, and the third told of a comedic exchange between Guy Faux and Rasputin. Despite having three strong stories that could have been filled with vibrant sounds and elaborate details, the entire piece felt lost in itself.
The show had too many awkward pauses and it jumped too much between the already hard to follow stories. This piece would have been stronger had Rose Bower kept all the narratives separate or if she had all the stories coexist in some unified theatrical world. Instead, audience members walked away feeling confused as they attempted to figure out the meaning behind the complete performance. As Spritz wrote in Theatrical Revolution, “the true significance of the experimental theatre lies with those participants who take our impending state of world crisis seriously and attempt to find forms which can supply what man needs and wants from his theatre in a changing society.” Maybe The Foley Explosion could be more enjoyable if an audience member spent less time trying to find the significance of this piece of experimental theatre. It is a shame that a piece with such a strong beginning lacked the same promise and strength by the end.
Despite the confusion in this performance, Rose Bowen might be an artist to watch out for. She started off as a young experimental theatre maker, but took time off to raise a child. Now in her early 30s, Rose Bower is trying to find her groove. There were a few mistakes and technical difficulties during the performance. One such error happened when she spent precious performance time attempting to create a ringing noise by running her wet finger around the rim of a wine glass. After two minutes, the glass finally emitted Rose Bower’s desired high-frequency hum. She has creative and massive ideas, but she needs to spend a couple more evenings practicing the execution of her ideas. As Daniel Perks wrote in Exeunt Magazine, “in taking the time to mix these harmonic colours, the cadence of the show is disrupted. On the one hand it’s fascinating to draw back the curtain and understand the composition of the production; on the other it takes time, removes the pace and takes the sheen off the end result.” Rose Bower also seemed slightly nervous on stage, perhaps it is because she is attempting to make a comeback after taking her break from theatre. For those interested in traveling to The Yard Theatre to watch The Foley Explosion, they should keep in mind that the performance is part of The Yard’s NOW Festival. Rose Bower received a theatre mentor, and she is still learning about the art of the live performance.
The Foley Explosion started off as an interesting concept. Rose Bower created sounds that evoked a unique sense of imagination. Although the idea started off strong, her performance lacked in terms of story structure and slightly in performance. For those who decide to watch this performance, one should keep in mind that Rose Bower is the NOW Festival’s mentee and not a mentor. She has to polish a few skills, but a bright future could come from this emerging creator.
View Julie Rose Bower’s Trailer for The Foley Explosion.