Let's Murder Marsha

Objectives and Outcomes


To Explore a Synaptic Discourse Between Sight and Sound.


When I first read Let’s Murder Marsha, the script was like a 1940s radio play. This insight and further thinking and research led to an exploration of a kind of synaptic discourse where visual and auditory elements of the play would be presented separately. For example, only props that were specifically needed as a visual aid were used, and all other props were represented by both their effect on the actor’s body (e.g., the holding of a cocktail glass) and, separately, by the sounds those objects make (e.g., the clink of ice going into the glass). Further, actors were encouraged to find physical representation of the inner life of characters, often in an abstract manifestation that allowed the audience to derive meaning from such representations separate from the auditory experience provided by the script. Directing a play where visual stimuli are presented separately from auditory stimuli led to a unique and immersive theatrical experience. By isolating the visual and auditory elements, the outcomes were quite intriguing. Here are some of those outcomes:

1. Heightened experience: When visual and auditory cues are separated and reconnected in the mind of an audience, that audience feels the surprise and delight of recognition.

2. Enhanced interpretation: By separating visual and auditory stimuli, the audience was encouraged to interpret the performance in their own unique way. They could derive meaning from the visuals, symbols, and gestures, creating a more personalized and subjective understanding of the play.

3. Increased sensory engagement: Isolating the visual and auditory elements intensified the sensory experience for the audience. They became more attuned to subtle details, such as the actors' facial expressions, body language, and the intricate visual elements that contribute to the overall narrative.

4. Experimental storytelling: Directing a play in this manner allowed for experimentation and innovation in storytelling techniques, allowing for alternative ways of conveying emotions, narrative arcs, and themes through purely visual means, relying on symbolism and non-verbal communication.

5. Heightened anticipation and tension: Separating the visual and auditory components heightened the audience's sense of anticipation and suspense. The absence of spatially synchronized audio cues created a sense of mystery, unpredictability, and tension, as the audience was forced to be actively engaged in piecing together the narrative.

6. Collaborative interpretation: When visual and auditory stimuli are presented separately, the audience members engaged in collaborative interpretation and discussion after the performance, as revealed in several talk-back sessions. Each person's experience was unique, fostering conversations about the different perspectives and insights gained from the production.

Overall, directing Let’s Murder Marsha where visual stimuli are presented separately from auditory stimuli opened up avenues for innovative storytelling, heightened sensory engagement, and a more personalized interpretation of the performance. It challenged traditional theatrical norms and offered a unique experience for both the audience and the artists involved.