‘Dreamt as a living poem, it is a wander along the water, a seat beside someone on a bench, a conversation, a landscape of words written with bodies, a space for you to reflect, remember, imagine, in honour of things loved and lost’ – Luke Pell (Maker and Creator – In The Ink Dark)

We find ourselves in the threadbare opulence of Leith Theatre, an almost forgotten space in this city, lost to us for a generation and only now re-opened to be re-imagined. We are welcomed by grey clad performers interspersed within the carefully  arranged seating; they warmly invite us to sit anywhere we like.

There is no specific focal point, the chairs face in all directions, clustered and makeshift in the centre of the theatre. The score is simple set of sine oscillations as we arrive, we are the first act, this is accented by the usual murmur of audience anticipation. As the music gently ascends in volume and complexity, the murmur begins to dissipate; the performers remain at rest until we are silenced by the subtlest of motions.

We are witnessing a ritual, evocative of muted incantations, the motion a medium scrying on flesh. The performers explore the space, and the audience, each individual with their unique interpretation of this immersive experience. Scott Twynholm’s composition moves through calm contemplation to musical maelstrom. We are the eye of the storm, static, all around us kinetic.

Somewhere there is a scratching of brushes and pens, what emerges are flowing images of  people, movement, and words, penned and pinned to the peripheries. I feel honoured  to be at the performance, the very tangible strength, poise, and vitality no more that a foot away at any given point. Relative to my position Kitty Fedorec, Robert Hesp, Katie Miller and Janice Parker alternating at the forefront. Carolina Ravaioli, Jak Soroka and Richard White in the distance. We are fortunate to be given such a unique and rare perspective of the performers artistry, I find this mesmerising.

From any other position, this would be a different story, it would be a different performance altogether, we are all given a unique viewpoint of an immensely intimate and meditative experience. This kind of immersive performance isn’t for everyone, one theatre goer becoming immersed in their program until the dancing stopped. A breath, silence, and then repose.

And then there is a story, dreamt as a living poem, in honour of things loved and lost. JL Williams gives words to this story, or these stories, the sum of a collection of conversations held in libraries, gardens, on benches, and by rivers in Leith and Edinburgh. An exploration of the passage of time, past, present, and future.

We are invited to stay and convene with the our gracious hosts, we meet, mingle, and reflect. We trickle away, the ephemeral experience becomes a memory.  The moment becomes the past, we move through the current, to imagine our futures once again.

Photos courtesy of Brian Hartley.

In The Ink Dark will be performed throughout June in venues around Edinburgh and Leith. There is a wealth of content and podcasts available here.