The Breath Control Project at the Coronet Theatre
This immersive series of projects between mother and daughter collaborators Caroline and Laura Wright is a relaxing experience similar to mindfulness and a reminder not to take the simplest of bodily functions for granted.
Audience members gather in the Coronet’s bar, where they are ushered by the Breath Choir voluntary performers from the Notting Hill area, who are all dressed in matching dungarees and gloves. The smaller studio space hosts Osmosis, in which six performers play with their breaths, catching, throwing and generally being spirited with the invisible balls of air around each other and the audience. There is something very soothing about listening to the inhalations and exhalations from the performers that almost lulls one to sleep, but the change in acts prevents the audience from falling into a complete slumber. Inflated transparent bags – of what we can only assume is breath – sit on the back table; apart from this, the setup is minimal.
The choir hold a range of musical notes, some of which reach incredibly shrill pitches, and a typist places a metronome on the floor. Coughs, gasps of shock, sighs and other exhalations of expressions ensue, joined by flautist Carla Rees; these sounds coincide to strangely call to mind the 2018 horror film Hereditary. Laura begins singing a melody about breathing and her vocals are stunning; it’s no wonder the mezzo-soprano has sung for the Queen and at Prince Harry’s Invictus Games opening ceremony.
As the typist discusses his lung disease while holding glass creations of the organs, you feel fortunate to be healthy. The performers then lie down while the flute plays softly in the background, joined by Laura, whose breathing is visible with every note she sings. Osmosis ends here, where attendees are gently asked if they’d like to breathe into plastic bags like the performers had done, placing them upon Laura.
With the second part of the show, Notes, visitors stand on stage in the bigger auditorium and are instructed to hold any musical note they choose with only one breath. It’s exhilarating to be up there with all the lights and though there are no spectators, it’s still a cool, unique experience, the lights revealing hanging glass larynxes as the latest voice joins over 190 others. Though more could have been done with the audience in Osmosis, the conceptual piece is still distinct and makes you ponder, as all art should do.
Photo: Rosie Powell
The Breath Control Project is at the Coronet Theatre from 30th May until 1st June 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.