David Leddy wants you to hear voices. It’s not that he’s trying to make you crazy. He just wants some of your ear bud time.
At this point, you’re probably used to witnessing public garden pedestrians plugged into their own life dramas, ambling silently with wires dangling from their ears or speaking their halves of conversations into the faceless air. In Susurrus, Leddy curates the situation with a drama of his own devising, full of monologue, music and atmospheric sound, and loosely based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
What’s he up to? Well, getting us up out of their seats, for one thing. Leading us to reexamining familiar surroundings for another. It’s just one of this internationally celebrated Scottish performance-artist-turned-playwright’s many experiments in reconfiguring just what constitutes a theatrical experience.
He’s wrapped audiences in origami paper for a tea ceremony in a room full of Japanese film footage, toured them around his own apartment where an actor in each room greeted them with a performance, and he’s created a variety of audio pieces for audiences of one.
In the vain of Susurrus, Leddy has made two other “Aurticula” pieces—recordings that toured beheadphoned audiences around familiar spaces with theatrical agendas. Tymphonic, commissioned for the National Review of Live Art, combined the jargon of self-help books with the discourses of self-indulgent performance reviews and dubious confessional storytelling—a mixture of less than trustworthy voices in your head.
Reeky, a piece made for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, toured folks around out of the way corners of the festival town, tuned to a collage of narratives that took them down the darkest alleys of travel itself, from memoirs of festival disaster to reminiscences of the Jim Crow bus boycotts to musings on sex tourism.
To get heady about it, as Scotland’s only “practiced-based Ph.D. in theatre” is sometimes wont to do, Leddy’s work combines the theories of cultural criticism with the structures of tradition performance to forge something unique.
To get ready, stretch out your legs and clear your mind; it’s about to get crowded in there.