Control Signal

Karen Christopher & Sophie Grodin
Sound design by Boris Hauf
Lighting design by Martin Langthorne
Dramaturgy by Litó Walkey

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 with 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.

See Wonderful World of Dance review (1 Nov 2014) here.

Sophie Grodin is a Danish performance maker, based in Copenhagen. Through performance, she wants to bring new importance to spaces, create collective memory, and discover alternative ways of learning through collaborative methods. She graduated from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, has worked with Haranczak/Navarre Performance Projects since 2011, and is part of the collective and self-run school FUKK.

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.


Written responses:

What never stops? – a conversation between Joe Kelleher, Karen Christopher and Sophie Grodin, after the first London performance of Control Signal
, at Chelsea Theatre, 10 October 2013. The conversation was led and “loosely edited” by Joe Kelleher. PDF here.

To read writer Mary Paterson’s response to Control Signal click here.

The following is extracted from Mary Paterson’s 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.


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.

Performance History

17 March 2017, Chisenhale Dance Space, London (as part of TWOFOLD)

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

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


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

Work-in-progress: June 16, 2012, SHOW TiME Rich Mix, London



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

Control Signal rehearsal footage by Jemima Yong, June 2013