Established in 2010 as a framework for the collaboration of Duncan Speakman, Sarah Anderson and Emilie Grenier, Circumstance tries to create cinematic experiences in unexpected environments. Its work takes many forms, from mass participation performances and intimate headphone based encounters, to books that go beyond the page, guided tours of the future and pedestrian symphonies. Often working in uncontrolled spaces outside theatre and gallery venues, it integrates its shows into the fabric of everyday life. 

Both emergent and commonplace technology is regularly used as a way of investigating the social and physical impacts of an increasingly digital culture, but the questions it asks are wrapped in melancholy and romance. Circumstance's process begins with sound and music composition, but continuous collaborations with technologists, programmers, writers, designers and dancers inform the final performances. It often develops custom software for its projects and it committed to publishing as much as possible within an open source framework.

Circumstance is regularly invited to present its work in numerous contexts, from film and theatre festivals, to social regeneration projects and technology research programmes. 

  • Image: You Who Will In No Other Way. Photograph: Circumstance
  • Image: We Are Forests. Photograph: Circumstance
  • Image: As If It Were The Last Time. Photograph: Circumstance
  • Image: A Folded Path. Photograph: Circumstance


You Who Will In No Other Way

  • Duration:
  • People on road: 2
  • Freight: No freight necessary
  • Freight details: 2 x 25kg cases.


A combination of live performers and a 30 channel sound system creating a cinematic narrative for an empty building, drawing on notions of determinism and the impossibility of progress.  

Rooms become cinematic frames in which performers create poetic tableaus. Each performer appears identical, always seeing a future version of 'themselves' in the next room. A multi-channel sound system plays resonant tones that hang in the air, portable speakers carried by the audience play individual melodic elements that articulate and animate the spaces.

Local performers collaborate to create the work (4-5 depending on site).

A Folded Path

  • Duration:
  • People on road: 2
  • Freight: No freight necessary
  • Freight details: 2 x 25kg cases. Cases contain 35 handmade speakers + 35 GPS enabled mobile media systems


An orchestra of 35 portable hand-made speakers creates a mobile cinematic soundtrack that unfolds across a city. Each speaker is carried by individual audience members and plays a different strand of the composition, and are controlled by satellite positioning, so as the audience walks through the city the music is altered by their movement. The participants become performers as they spread the music to everyone in the vicinity, creating a shared social composition.

As If It Were The Last Time (a subtlemob)

  • Duration:
  • People on road: 1
  • Freight: No freight necessary


Like an invisible flashmob, a subtlemob integrates with its surroundings making everything around you into a film. Audiences download a soundtrack, turn up at a secret location and press play at a specified time. Sometimes they are just watching, but sometimes they’ll be following instructions, so they become ‘actors’ in this imaginary film about celebrating the present, about home, belonging and loss. 

(Unlimited audience capacity)

Wraparound work

Circumstance is experienced in public lectures and participartory workshops around the following themes:

- Experiential narrative
- Locative media authoring (both software tools and creative concepts)
- Writing for headphone performances/guides
- Sound design 
- Mobile technology and public space

For many of these the company can provide the equipment required for a workshop of up to 20 people. 

Press Comments & Testimonials

"Simple everyday actions take on new meaning as tableaux merge and intertwine within the carefully choreographed constellations of moments"

Dazed and Confused

"I slipped into the city of my memories.. ghostly promises brush against me. I am in tears."

Realtime Arts

"Capricious and profound, the experience definitely captures what it is to escape from the world for a little bit – and then to return and find that you see things just a bit differently"  

The Londonist

"a welcome taste of transmedia storytelling"


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Artistic Director(s)

Duncan Speakman, Sarah Anderson & Tom Abba

Contact details

Duncan Speakman

Pervasive Media Studio
1 Canons Road

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