Described as a “theatrical maverick” with “a propensity for fearless experiment” by the Financial Times, writer-director David Leddy returns to Edinburgh with two productions, one of which could be on a smartphone or tablet computer near you…
I don't spend much time thinking about whether or not my work counts as theatre or not; but they’re always drama. They're always grounded in story, character and emotion, and asking questions about why the world is the way that it is. Whether or not they count as ‘theatre’ isn’t something that particularly bothers me.
"Both pieces stand by themselves, but also act as counterpoints to each other. Horizontal Collaboration is a live show performed every day by four new actors who know nothing about what’s going to happen; they read the script blind when they get on stage. They play the role of four United Nations (UN) lawyers who are also performing in court with no idea of what's happening, reading excerpts from interviews with an African warlord's wife. The other show, City of the Blind, is an online political thriller—like a downloaded book, which comes to life with video, audio and photographs. It’s also thematically linked to the UN, but has a completely different plot about a UN investigator who has discovered that some UN peacekeepers have been abusing rather than protecting local people in Africa."
Given that City of the Blind is a digital presentation, why is it listed under ‘Theatre’in the Fringe programme?
"I don't spend much time thinking about whether or not my work counts as theatre or not; but they’re always drama. They're always grounded in story, character and emotion, and asking questions about why the world is the way that it is. Whether or not they count as ‘theatre’ isn’t something that particularly bothers me."
Is it about finding the best way to tell a particular story?
"Absolutely; I'm always interested in manipulating the form of theatre, taking it apart and putting it back together in a different order to see what happens. I’ve said very often that I want to break the rules, but keep the traditions. The way that spying works today is mostly digital, so that's the logical way to tell the story. A lot of what happens in City of the Blind takes place through emails, voicemail, instant message chats and so on, so that's the format that you experience the story through. It’s why you watch it on a smartphone; that’s the technology we’re now used to encountering all of those things through. So in one scene you might listen to a character’s voicemail; in the next, you might read an email; and, after that, you might watch webcam footage which has been illicitly stolen from her webcam. It changes from scene to scene.
Do you value being picked again as part of the Made in Scotland programme?
It's always useful to promote the work. The risk with City of the Blind is that it’s easy for a digital piece to be ignored. It's all very well it being on the internet and being accessible to everybody, but will anybody necessarily go and find it? I wanted to attach it to a live show; it was very important that both of the pieces are in the Made in Scotland programme, and the Traverse’s programme—it underlines that they’re both there at the same time.
Broadway Baby Listing and Edinburgh Fringe Box Office: http://www.broadwaybaby.com/shows/horizontal-collaboration/702208