SummerWorks '17 Review: Explosions for the 21st Century08 August 2017 / by Philip Zave Wiseman (author)
Shhhhh, do you hear that? Seriously, be quiet, turn off your music and just…listen. It is not often that we take a moment to notice the sounds around us: sounds of traffic, birds, people chatting, or even the hum of the radiator. These sounds affect our feelings and health, but like many things today they are often ignored. On the other hand, Christopher Ross-Ewart, spends almost all of his time listening. Over the course of the SummerWorks Performance Festival, he is revealing to audiences the dark, thoughtful, sensitive, and hilarious insights he has about how sound affects us.
During the hour-long performance of Explosions for the 21st Century, Chris absorbs us into his world in a much deeper way than I anticipated. The show's director, Graham Isador describes the play as an insight into a unique way of thinking about day-to-day life.
Through deep contrasts of light, sound, energy, and humour, Explosions for the 21st Century aims to shock you into the realization that sounds can produce fear, sadness, comfort and excitement. Walking into the theatre you are blanketed in calm darkness. The sounds of the rainforest relax you and it isn’t until the show opens with a joke (that had the whole audience cracking up), that you realize the effect of different sounds on our psyche. When Chris starts talking, he uses a conversational and personal tone to educate the audience on some basic knowledge and tools that professional listeners and sound theorists use to understand life. At one point he walks us through the sounds of the last 17 years and in just a few short minutes I felt like I understood how we arrived at this point in 21st century in a way I had never thought of before.
In the second half of the performance Chris says that 90 percent of being an artist is tricking people into producing your art. If this is true, then the other 10 percent is convincing audiences that your art is worth engaging in, and I believe that Chris was extremely successful in this endeavour.