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BINAURAL DRAMA. Czech Republic - A Study of Aphasia

Production Company: Czech Radio. Producer: Kateøina Rathouská. Authors: Katharina Schmitt, Michal Rataj. Director: Katharina Schmitt. Composer and musical director: Michal Rataj. Sound engineers: Michal Rataj, Tomá¹ Pernickı.


In A Study of Aphasia, the protagonist is a singer who loses her voice during an opera performance. Listeners then witness this new world our singer enters in the course of a single night at the hospital. A nurse who is having a difficult night shift tries to make her utter at least a single word using various means. The singer relentlessly refuses. Maybe somewhere deep inside she is looking for a new form of communication…

In his book Children’s Speech and Aphasia (1918), Emil Fröschels - an Austrian linguist and the founder of speech therapy — describes the relationship between the development of speech in children, speech impediments, and psychology. Inspired by Fröschels’ book and a scene from Ingmar Bergman’s film Persona — in which an actress loses her voice — composer Michal Rataj and director/author Katharina Schmitt explore the themes of language, speech and voice. The question “Who speaks?” is as important for them as the question “Who does not speak?” and “Who is not heard?”

A Study of Aphasia examines the voice as a fundamental component of human identity. The dramatic framework consists of a situation between a non-verbal and a verbal character, which leads to a whole range of voice manifestations from singing, sprechgesang and whispering to speaking and shouting.

The play also serves as a reaction to political, environmental and social events. The main character no longer believes her work is of any significance in relation to current world problems – her virtuoso singing suddenly seems ridiculous to her. We follow her in the midst of a deep artistic crisis in which she doubts the meaning of art. The resulting sound composition becomes a mirror to her inner world.

English text (click)