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props > theatre | The Speaking Machine

Molly Fletcher and I designed and made The Speaking Machine for a new performance called Xhumed - Dead Good Thinking for Xhumed BHX13. It was performed at the New Library of Birmingham and was a series of, what can only be described as, TED style lectures by dead people.

We made the speaking prop based on the writings of Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles. He invented a theoretical talking Machine and our job was to create his vision. He wrote "...I contrived a wooden mouth with lips of soft leather, and with a vale back part of it for nostrils, both which could be quickly opened or closed by the pressure of the fingers…. or which if built in a gigantic form, might speak so loud as to command an army or instruct a crowd." Erasmus Darwin (TEMPLE OF NATURE). We added the chin and teeth to make it more theatrical and indeed the audience, when commanded to stand, did so.

Speaking Machine