The voice as creation – Pre-voice and Vocal Theater

Sara Belo

Lisbon Theatre and Film School – Lisbon Polytechnic Institute, Portugal


What is left of the voice in the scene when it is not based on verbal or musical language, that is, when these structures are not its main driver? In other words, what can a performer vocalize on stage if we suppress words and singing (in its tonal logic)?

At this conference, some of the results of the doctoral research will be shared, where the theme of voice as a driver of creation was essential. To that extent, we sought to study how the voice can be the conductor of scenic creation, leaving out vocal experimentalism that does not include the scene, theatricality. Following the work, the concepts of “Pre-Voice” and “Vocal Theater” were proposed, whose scope will be explained ahead.

From the artistic/researcher point of view, not only the construction of artistic objects, but also the observation of the work of other creators are part of this research. Thus, Francis Bacon’s painting was taken as an inspiration for vocal improvisation in search of the voice taken from the logos and the polyphonic tonal system, as well as the artistic path of Cathy Berberian, Alfred Wolfsohn, Roy Hart, Enrique Pardo, Linda Wise, Meredith Monk, Fátima Miranda, finding in their resonances countless proposals of the voice as the engine of the scene. Likewise, the MAGMA show (a show conceived within the scope of this research) formulated important study clues, analyzed in the light of a post-dramatic and contemporary belief.

The concept of pre-voice, as a result of the original study for this research, seeks to find the ontological genesis of the voice, in what precedes it and drives its emission. It relates to the pre-pictorial developed by Deleuze, to that of Simondon’s pre-individual, to the idea of Barba’s pre-expressive, as well as the idea of suspension defended by MerleauPonty. It can be defined as: everything that is in power (inside and outside the expresser) before the voice emerges and that will condition its appearance. The pre-voice is the gesture, the moment that precedes the vocal emanation, therefore, it is the silence or the inspiration, where the entire body of the performer empties itself of references or suspends them to surrender to vocal gesture. Therefore, the pre-voice is not the voice, but what precedes it: a silence imbued in sense – it is power and sense.

When analyzing the typology of a performance where the theater and the voice cross and where the voice is the place of theatricality, we witnessed the concepts of Extended Voice Technique, Nuova Vocalità, Crossover, Musical Theater, Composed Theater and Postopera a designation, opting for Voice Theater, a theatrical show of a post-dramatic nature, engine of which is the voice in its multiple aspects. Its characteristics – centrality of the voice, vocal research, interdependence with theatricality and dialogue with other artistic areas – are revealed through the voice personified in a body/being as a result of the pre-voice.

Keywords: voice, pre-voice, Theatre, vocal experimentalismo


Sara Belo is an actress, singer, voice teacher and vocal experimentalist, PhD in Arts from the University of Lisbon. Also graduated in Theater (actors) by the Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema where she has been a voice teacher since 2004. She attended the Singing course at the National Conservatory and finished her Masters in Theater Studies at the FL-UL. Actress and singer of various types of music (opera, jazz, pop) studied with the directors João Brites (Bando), João Mota (Comuna), João Lourenço (Aberto), Carlos Pessoa (Garagem), Cláudio Hochman and with the composers / conductors Eurico Carrapatoso, João Paulo Santos, Carlos Marecos. She has had a frequent collaboration with composers Jorge Salgueiro, having participated in several of his works and with Daniel Schvetz. As a vocal experimentalist she performed several works. Her first creation in 2014 – MAGMA, solo vocal – at Teatro Meridional and Teatro O Bando (2017).