The tone of Drone is set from the very beginning. A small drone takes flight in the performance space and hovers uncannily several metres in the air. It then turns its camera on the audience. The device projects a live video onto a screen to the back of the stage, where the audience look back on a distorted version of ourselves, as we are sat in the comfort of the Tron Theatre. Themes of surveillance, anxiety and technology are present throughout Drone. It is a performance that combines music, visuals and poetry in colourful, brazen and authoritative ways to grab the attention of the audience and tell us a story about the ubiquity of surveillance.
Harry Josephine Giles is the writer and performer of the piece where they embody the character of a drone. They enter the stage and let the small floating device drop into their hands and the show begins proper. The term “The Drone” is repeated throughout the performance with the words becoming a mantra like refrain with a meditative quality. The character of the drone expresses melancholy, emotion, humour and looks for belonging. It is a living breathing and emotive being that is part of our everyday lives.
The term “drone” as a means to describe a sound is also important within the show. Throughout the performance sound artist Neil Simpson develops a constant humming and whirring sounsdscape that increases the anxiety of the piece. These electronic and buzzing sounds work in tandem with the vocals and visuals. Contorted and malformed video footage of landscapes and cityscapes set the scene and allow us to view the surveillance culture we are part of. The visuals, created by artist Jamie Wardrop, are presented through a filter and this distance is underscored when Harry Josephine’s voice becomes distorted and deformed. The drone may express emotion, but it is still distant and this causes suspicion and intrigue.
Drone is on tour throughout May and June with dates at Camden’s People Theatre, London 2nd May, Sound Archive, Orkney 9th May, Gable End Theatre, Hoy 10th May and Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh 4th and 5th June.