Ditto, Traverse Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Greg Sinclair
Greg Sinclair (Composer/Director)
Kate Temple (Designer)
Catherine Devereux (Production Manager)
John McCaffrey (Lighting Designer)
Chris Devaney (Movement Consultant)
Katy Barry (Soprano)
Fran Pybus (Clarinet/Bass Clarinet)
Chris Barclay (Trombone)
Roy Mohan Shearer (Percussion)
Running time

Ditto is a musical performance that offers a child-like exploration of some rather deep philosophical questions surrounding the nature of sound.

It represents the culmination of Greg Sinclair’s research project, undertaken as part of his artistic residency with Imaginate, to find out how 8-12 year old children listen and respond to music. This performance piece did not try to provide an answer to this research question, but instead explored the various responses it had elicited, allowing the audience to explore their own.

On the set, the black music stands of various sizes scattered haphazardly about were barely noticeable against the black background. Great splashes of garish colour came from the performers’ clothes, their many other music stands and their sheets of music. Whether or not the statement had been deliberately made, it raised questions of what do we pay attention to, what don’t we notice, what stands out – and why.  

A variety of ladders and chairs were also dotted about for the performers to stand or sit on, either to play or to listen. This introduced the idea of different, individual, perspectives and raised idle questions about whether a given performer was seeing a particular ‘performance’ differently to you.

The four musicians – a percussionist, soprano, clarinettist and trombonist, used their instruments and other objects to make both musical and non-musical sounds.

One particular piece saw the soprano singing some quotes from the children in the study that were responses to questions such as, What is music? What is silence? What is noise?

There were pauses of various length between each musical outburst, providing space to think these questions through. The sheets of music used to perform each piece were discarded, once used, and strewn around the floor. These brightly coloured sheets littering the stage served as vivid visual suggestions of the mood or feeling that lingered in the silence once the sound it represented had long gone.

Although billed as a performance for children aged 8+, my 5 year old was able to engage with this piece, albeit on her own level, making occasional whispered comments such as, ‘oh that sounded like magic happening’, ‘that noise was scary’, and such like.

One possible criticism would be to question whether this piece may have worked better in a less intimate space, as the close proximity of the performers seemed to demand more audience interaction than the piece allowed. Nonetheless, this was an entertaining and thought-provoking composition that augurs well for the Imaginate Festival in May.

DItto was at the Traverse 20-22 January 2011