Genevieve Murphy: I Don’t Want To Be An Individual All On My Own

Soundtrack of an eight birthday party

from: Carolien Verduijn, Theaterkrant, 2 nov 2020

After the premiere of I don't want to be an individual on my own by Genevieve Murphy was postponed this spring due to corona restrictions, the temporary closure of the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht almost seemed to throw a spanner in the works again this autumn. SPRING found a solution and moved the performance to the Pandorazaal in TivoliVredenburg. And how lucky that is, because it's a perfect place for this audio work.

In that venue where so many people already danced into the night and where so many artists presented their music, Murphy takes her audience along into the soundtrack she composed of her eighth birthday party. Pulsing beats sometimes give that wonderful club feeling.

Murphy is the composer, scenographer and performer for this performance. Her work cannot be pigeon-holed: you can approach it as a performance, but you could also write about it as a music album, radio play or immersive experience. So I just go where my senses take me, and that is first of all to the sound.

Upon entering, the audience is given headphones, so we hear the sound all around us via a binaural microphone. Murphy takes us back in time through sound and introduces us to her mother, who she plays herself. She is preparing for Genevieve's eighth birthday party.

Deflating balloons, party horns, cow bells, birds and pompoms: a range of sounds surrounds the audience through the headphones. The sounds are the leitmotiv for the characters and words that Genevieve's mother introduces us to. A stream of consciousness that is preoccupied with managing children, parents who want wine, the garden and the balloons. Each subject has its own sound, so when mother says "garden" a bird's sound is heard, at "party" a party horn sounds, and so on. This creates a soundscape that merges with her monologue, which reveals the chaos in her head.

In a similar manner, we encounter Genevieve's grandmother who has a a drinking problem, mean students who decide to roll granny through the garden when she can no longer stand on her feet, and the bushes at the edge of the garden hiding something dark ... Murphy creates a setup for studying empathy by first diving into the head of her eight-year-old self, and then, as an eight-year-old, placing herself in the shoes of her mother, grandmother, grandfather, and other party guests. Are you still following?

The headphones place the voices of those people directly into your brain, which suddenly brings those crazy characters from the Scotland of twenty years ago very near. With colored light tubes and funny faces, Murphy sketches what her garden looked like and takes us into her world. Although Murphy's punctual and controlled performance and facial expressions certainly contribute to the empathy with the characters, the great thing about this performance is that you could also listen to it at home as a podcast or music album, with some adjustments if necessary, provided that Murphy wants to make the work available in that way. It seems like a great opportunity in these corona times.

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