Calling for Silence

I have never been the sole member of an audience before. When I am told that I will be the only person watching Calling for Silence this evening, I am rather apprehensive. The flyer tells you very little about the show, only that it will be ‘an intriguing project journeying into the unknown... an exciting new experience’. I’m nervous that having their only spectator scribbling away in the front row will be off-putting for the actors. I needn’t have worried. There are no actors in Calling for Silence. Nor is there any set. The show starts with a traditional blackout, then a slow rising of the lights on stage. Suddenly, the house lights are switched back on and the tiny room buzzes under fluorescent bulbs. I sit for five minutes, ask for the air conditioning to be turned down, flick through my notebook and check my watch before I realise the show has actually started. For twenty minutes I listen to the erratic hum of the air conditioning and some birdsong that somehow finds its way to the windowless room in Jury’s Inn. After twenty minutes the house lights are switched off, the warm glow of stage lighting rises once again. Then it’s over. Tentatively, I clap. The press release handed out afterwards tells us that this show is inspired by Beckett’s ‘Not I’ and is an exploration of the question ‘what is theatre?’ Sparked by a discussion at school, students Jess Rankine and Victoria Wareham have brought the empty stage to Edinburgh, removing both actress and text that appeared in Beckett’s play. Their argument is that anything can be considered theatre as long as it is placed in the context of theatre. Pretentions aside, this show unfortunately just reinforced for me the fact that we were sitting in a conference room on the 8th floor of a hotel, not a theatre. Another consideration that I had the liberty to work out is that they are charging £5 for the privilege to sit in silence – that is £1 per four minutes of silence. Though I am unsure of its groundbreaking impact on theatre (a similar thing was brought to the Fringe a few years ago, only it was an hour long), Calling for Silence is a welcome opportunity to escape the rush and racket of the royal mile. But you could equally hide in the café of Edinburgh’s Library for just the price of a coffee.

Reviews by Louisa-Claire Dunnigan

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The Blurb

'Calling for Silence' is an intriguing production journeying into the unknown. Join us for an exciting new experience. Come and see it to believe it!

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