Photo: Jemima Yong Photo: Jemima Yong Photo: Jemima Yong Photo: Jemima Yong Photo: Jemima Yong Photo: Jemima Yong Photo: Jemima Yong Photo: Jemima Yong Photo: Jemima Yong Photo: Jemima Yong

Control Signal

Karen Christopher & Sophie Grodin

sound design by Boris Hauf
lighting design by Martin Langthorne
dramaturgy by Litó Walkey

SHOWING 17 March 2017

at Chisenhale Dance Space as part of TWOFOLD

Control Signal explores invisible influences and the inexplicable connections we feel but fail to acknowledge. It explores our irresistible urge to impose our will upon our immediate surroundings; upon nature. We are tied to each other, to objects we hold dear, to ideas. Through sound textures, spoken text, and actions that build visual statements, two people amble, dance, and tremble through a series of ideas. We send a ripple with a facial expression. We move the air with our hands. We lean. We push. We fall silent. We make a plea. And, in order to bridge the internal and the external, in order to undermine stable forms, in order to show the effects of invisible forces, we introduce an uncontrollable vibration.

The starting place for our research was the body as conduit for electrical impulses, following lines of electricity through the body, through the air, and through history. The piece features Topsy the elephant electrocuted for unruly behaviour by Thomas Edison in 1903 and Ethel Rosenberg electrocuted by the state of New York in 1953 for passing secrets to the USSR.

The following is extracted from Consider This by Mary Paterson, writing in response to Control Signal):

the passage of an electrical current;
a plume of smoke;
an elephant made to perform;
a woman who died for something she may or may not have believed in;
a pair of hearts beating in unison;
a pair of hands washed ceremoniously;
the expressive and particular details of a skeleton of a chair;
A leap of faith taken voluntarily in the dark, like the time the two women turn to us and toast us with their cups of water, the same water that has washed the hands of everyone here, which they lift to their mouths as if it is a rare and expensive substance;
a body becoming something else.

. . .
The room is thick with the memory of a stranger who tickles the hairs on the back of your neck, which is to say: our bodies do not keep us apart.
. . .
You almost feel your own heart pause for half a beat in order to be synchronised too and for something to arise from nothing and return to nothing again like the vibrations of a train carriage that career through the ground for hundreds of miles to rattle the seat of a man who is no longer alive.

See review by Gillie Kleiman, Bellyflop Magazine here.
See Wonderful World of Dance review (1 Nov 2014) here.

Sophie Grodin is Danish but lives in London. Collaboratively and by herself, she explores performance as a tool for articulation of internal and external patterns we don’t normally see. She searches for ways to make people around her move through subtle or unsubtle suggestions. She is interested in the performativity and unpredictability of situations that occur in the negotiation between space and body. Sophie performs, makes and facilitates. She speaks to strangers. She recently graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

Control Signal forms part of The Difference Between Home and Poem: a duet series. Each project in the series is jointly made, directed and performed by Karen Christopher and another artist.

Control Signal is a FLINT commission.


Performance History

28 November / 28 Tachwedd 2014, Canolfan y Celfyddydau Aberystwyth Arts Centre

18 November 2014, Beckett Studio, Headingley Campus, Leeds Beckett University

Chapter, Cardiff

5 November 2014, Performing House, York St John University, York

30 October 2014, Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells, London (Presented by the University of Roehampton, Drama, Theatre and Performance department in partnership with Sadler’s Wells.)

22 October 2014, Ivy Arts Centre, University of Surrey,Guildford

1 March 2014, The Performance Centre, Falmouth

2 November 2013, Broad Center Performance Space, Claremont, California

Premiere: 10 & 11 October, 2013, Chelsea Theatre, London

Preview: 3 October, 2013, Wickham Theatre, Bristol University www.bris.ac.uk/drama/theatre/prog.html

June 16, 2012, SHOW TiME Rich Mix, London (work-in-progress)


Excerpt from documentation of performances of Control Signal at Chelsea Theatre 10 & 11th October, 2013


rehearsal footage by Jemima Yong (June 2013)

Written response

To read writer Joe Kelleher's response to Control Signal click here.
To read writer Mary Paterson's response to Control Signal click here.

The documents below are date stamped written records created by Mary Paterson and Rachel Lois Clapham as part of NOTA c. Open Dialogues 2012 a commission to take up a workstation in the audience of each show as part of Present Attempt's SHOWTiME #3. These documents were generated during the work-in-progress showing of Control Signal.

NOTA document 1
NOTA document 2
NOTA document 3
NOTA document 4
NOTA document 5
NOTA document 6
NOTA document 7
NOTA document 8
NOTA document 9
NOTA document 10
NOTA document 11

Photo and diagram credits:
Click here for list of credits for images and diagrams on printed audience leaflet.