A glamorous looking package arrived at my door this morning. Inside lay a vial, a set of instructions and an ornately adorned letter. This delivery was my first step towards experiencing Andy Field and Becki Darlington’s piece, A Rain Walk.
Co-commissioned by Dublin Fringe Festival, The Ark, Dublin and Norwich Theatre Festival, this joint venture is an elegantly executed blend of sound art and interactive theatre. The audio performance can be streamed on Soundcloud or downloaded as an MP3 track making it easily accessible for those who, like me, struggle to navigate the digital world.
The instructions are simple: listen to the audio soundtrack while on a walk in the rain. Although Dublin has so far experienced a relatively dry September, I encountered a brief morning shower which provided the ideal setting for me to experience the piece.
Walking along the rain-speckled Liffey while listening to the audio vitalised my senses. The electronic soundtrack gently lulled me into the performance, establishing a safe, tranquil environment. With a target audience ranging right from children to adults, this piece of theatre manages to transcend the genre’s usual boundaries. Using children’s voices from the UK and Ireland, the 45-minute soundtrack featured narratives from innocent minds.
The variety of the accents among the children is interesting too. From Yorkshire to South Dublin, the voices successfully capture a wide geographical range. However, not one individual is predominant – instead, the cauldron of voices becomes indiscernible, creating a wonderfully communal effect.
The beauty of the piece lies in its simple, unadulterated nature. With the rain as a stage, the children seemed to speak their own feelings, free from adult influence. The rain acts as a binding force holding the performance together, with each child taking note of it. Otherwise, there is little continuity in the piece given that it bounces between random concepts so as to capture the unrestrained mind of a child.
A water sound effect echoes behind the voices, adding an exhilarating component to the already stimulating experience. Although the erratic narration risked becoming tedious at times, the intended environment of a walk in the rain provides the listener with enough stimulation to maintain focus.
Accompanied by written instructions explaining that the performance could be experienced “anytime and anywhere”, A Rain Walk is accessible to a disparate audience. Unlike the usually rigid timings and set locations of more traditional theatre performances, the production was fluid and allowed its audience to dictate their own experience. This tranquil, understanding approach reflects a serenity that echoes throughout the entire performance.
At the end of the audio, a child asks, “Will you think of rain differently coming away from this?” The answer is yes. The thoughts and voices of these children reimagine a weather element that we often resent. Andy Field and Becki Darlington have ingeniously taken circumstances in which live onstage theatre is not feasible and created an entirely new performance space. This piece turned a usually mundane walk in the rain into something magical.
Tickets for A Walk in the Rain are currently available on the Dublin Fringe Festival website until September 20th.