The Dictaphones of How to be a Man (or the voice boxes of Manfred and Leo)

A bit of background on the purpose of the dictaphones. Put simply they provide the voices of the two co-performers (the mannequins). The reason that I need these other voices is because they allow me to voice the different types of man and the different ways to be a man in a way that means I can point out the contradictions and hypocrisys that they all contain. The short version of that is that it allows me to argue with myself whilst exploring how to be a man. They are an intrinsic part of the show.

So here’s a little story.

Last year I was invited to perform an earlier version of How to be a Man at a Cross Cultural Live Art Platform, presented by Something Human. Ovalhouse let me use a rehearsal space the day before, it was only the second time I was presenting it and some bits had changed. So I set up in the space andwent to work rehearsing. Everything was going great, but then, at 4.30pm one of the analogue dictaphones I’d been using broke. Just stopped working. At first I thought that the batteries had died, so I went for a walk to a local shop and got some new batteries. Still nothing. I fiddled about a bit, basically pressing every button I could find to see if it would fix it. I noticed that the spokes (think they’re called spokes, I’m going to call them spokes)were still turning but no sound was coming out. After further investigation I discovered that by squeezing the dictaphone I could get it to make a noise. Not a nice noise, it was like something out of a budget horror film. So there I was, at what was now 5pm, with a broken dictaphone and needing to carry the whole show back to where I was staying and in the morning I would have to get up at 7.30 and take the whole show across London to set up for a performance. There was no way of getting a dictaphone as a replacement so I had to settle for recording the whole thing again, onto my phone. In the end it worked out OK, the sound was much clearer and I was able to perform the show. It wasn’t ideal, as a digital recording is much more consistent I found that my one working dictaphone was playing at a much slower speed than the recording on my phone, but I still managed to get through.

So the point of this lttle story is to illustrate why I need to get hold of two digital dictaphones, which is part of why I have set up a crowdfunding campaign. There are two key reasons.

  1. Because they provide a much clearer sound.
  2. Because analogue dictaphones are unreliable and inconsistent.

Today I have been recording the lines for one of the mannequins (Manfred) onto the remaining, working dictaphone. The intention is to then record that onto a digital dictaphone, because I still want the effect of an analogue recording, but a digital recording cuts out a lot of the white noise.

You can have a look at my crowdfunding campaign here.

The broken dictaphone, with the many tapes that I have used to record the show

The old dictaphone that has died, and the many, many tapes that different versions of the show have been recorded on. (With tapes you cant really record over for performance, it makes the sound very muddy)

The one working dictaphone, it works, but its not a pretty noise.

The working dictaphone. It works but the white noise it creates is a bit distracting, and I’m constantly worried it will break.