Various locations in Edinburgh
Chalk Walk was Ben’s response to the severe restrictions of the 2020-21 Second Lockdown. Operating within the restriction that we could only go for a walk with one other person, Chalk Walk had the simplest premise. An actor and an audience member go on a walk, each with a stick of chalk. The audience member is encouraged to annotate with chalk anything about the urban topography that is striking or of interest, or anything memorable in the conversation.
The experience was part blind date, part therapy session, part confession. The feedback from audience members was that it was extraordinarily therapeutic and a gasp of oxygen in those dark days. The walks were performed by Emma Snellgrove and Neil John Gibson. It was the only live arts event of any kind which took place in the UK in February 2021. The Stage wrote a feature on Ben’s work as a result which you can read here:
Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman
Strictly respecting the rules of lockdown. there are blasts of sunshine, and whirls of snow.we talk, as strangers do, about life and death and bereavement, and how lockdown has changed the way we spend our days. As walking companions go, though, Neil John Gibson is a star, open, kindly, quirky, interesting and interested, and a wonderful listener. And in these days, the chance to walk and talk with a stranger is a precious thing, worth turning to the light, examining and valuing, against the backdrop of the transformed city; which is exactly what Harrison and the team have achieved, with this simple but unforgettable response to the times.
On paper, Chalk Walk is such modest theatre; it’s an artless encounter rather than a complex performance. But given the events of the last year, there’s something almost radically celebratory about the ordinary act of two strangers coming together to simply walk and talk and chalk.
Mark Brown, The National
The director’s brainchild is a series of organised chalk walks in which a single audience member is led gently astray by one of three performers. In my case, the perambulation was in the Canonmills district, home to Edinburgh’s Botanic Garden. My companion was actor, dancer, choreographer and podcast presenter extraordinaire Snellgrove...The route, on what were the defrosting streets of Canonmills, included a 1970s-style housing estate that I would have more readily associated with the Cumbernauld of my youth than a swanky area of Edinburgh. The conversation was voluminous and, often inspired by the sights and sounds on our route. Snellgrove’s “performance”, subtle and genuine as it is, is constructed around a persona (very much her own) that is open, engaging and profoundly humane. If one comes to Chalk Walk (as one should) in a spirit of generosity and candour, this mostly unscripted live theatre quickly becomes a fascinating and pleasant meeting of strangers...Chalk Walk is theatre pared back to the very fundamentals of live, human interaction. As brilliant as it is simple in its conception, it is the perfect, lockdown-compliant antidote to our Covid-plagued winter.