Permission to Speak

A work for live and pre-recorded voice

Delicately poised between concert and theatre, Permission to Speak explores the dynamic relationship of parent and child as it exists and evolves through a lifetime. Marking the first collaboration between director Tamara Saulwick and composer Kate Neal the work pairs contemporary performance with musical composition to construct a revealing portrait of what is often left unspoken.

Musings, diatribes, recollections and hindsight find voice as four performer–vocalists are fused in choral counterpoint with an assembly of pre-recorded voices, offering multiple perspectives on the contemporary experience of family. What would we say to those who brought us into the world? What will we say to those we leave behind?

Built from interviews with people of all ages, Permission to Speak interweaves the complexities, parallels and paradoxes of this most universal of relationships – manifested through the speaking, sounding, singing human voice.

★★★★ ‘Permission to Speak not only allows us to understand and empathise with other memories it allows us come to terms with and acknowledge our own childhood.’ 

Permission to Speak [is] remarkable … What Director, Tamara Saulwick, and her cast and crew have made is a piece built on ferocious discipline, yet still manages to feel fresh … Sonic high-wire artists without a net, they caught each other every time.’ 

★★★★ 1/2 ‘The interweaving harmonies composed by Kate Neal are so beautiful, so delicate, that it feels like such a privilege to witness the creation of this sound on stage … Performed with a stylised simplicity that in no way diminishes complexity, this piece is a soft joy, a catharsis, an honest act of connecting.

‘… this inventive new documentary concert piece by composer Kate Neal and director-librettist Tamara Saulwick [is] a hit with Melbourne audiences.’

Permission to Speak was commissioned by Chamber Made with support from Helen & Peter Murdoch and Sue Kirkham. The project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. Permission to Speak has also been supported by the City of Melbourne through Arts House and by the Australian Research Council and SIAL Sound Studios through the Agile Opera Project.


Winner ‘State Award for Performance of the Year’ – APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards 2017
Nominated ‘Choral Work of the Year’ –  APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards 2017
Nominated ‘Sound Performance’ in Contemporary and Experimental Performance category — Green Room Association Awards 2016.