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Newly announced musical BLACK BOX, by Queenslander Paul Hodge, is set to have its world premiere at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s (QPAC) Cremorne Theatre in May. The musical sets out to tell the story of David Warren, who may not necessarily be a house-hold name, but has provided a service vital to the modern day aviation industry. Warren was the Australian inventor behind the black box flight recorder – which constantly monitors a flight and records pivotal information should an unfortunate air traffic incident happen.

The narrative is driven by Warren’s personal tragedy—the loss of his father in an unexplained plane crash when he was just eight years old. BLACK BOX delves into Warren’s relentless pursuit to develop an invention capable of recording the final moments before a crash, risking his career, marriage, and mental health in the process. This theatrical piece explores themes of memory, loss, and the ways we remember and release those we cherish.

Writer and composer Paul Hodge drew inspiration from Warren’s passion for music when crafting this musical:

David’s invention was inspired by his love of music. I wanted to create a theatre form that was as inventive as David’s idea, which led to the use of recorded voices and music, in the same way the black box gives recordings, to immerse the audience in David’s sound world.

Michael Cormick, an internationally acclaimed singer and actor known for his roles in Phantom of the Opera and Beauty and the Beast, takes on the role of David Warren. Helen Dallimore, a Helpmann Award-winning actress with extensive touring credits in the UK and Australia, portrays David’s wife, Ruth – both remarkable talents for this production to have involved from its inaugural performance.

BLACK BOX sets out to deliver audiences to an innovative auditory experience, specifically utilising binaural audio, with audience members wearing headphones which allow them to be totally immersed in a 360-degree soundscape. If you have ever played a horror video game, many of these in the last decade or so have taken advantage of this technology, and it is really immersive, and is also pitched as a first for a musical production to feature. The idea behind the audio is that the technique employs two microphones positioned to mimic human ears, creating a three-dimensional auditory sensation that places the listener directly within the recorded scene.

Are you like me and keen on seeing BLACK BOX – whether for its subject matter or its intriguing use of audio technology? Tickets are going on-sale for tomorrow for the musical’s limited world premiere season. The season will run in the QPAC Cremone Theatre from 10 – 19 May inclusive, with tickets to be available for purchase directly via the QPAC website or by calling their box office team during business hours on 136 246. The season is being produced by Grey Gum Productions and Tinderbox Productions.

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