ArtsEmerson Closes Its Season
With A Play Without Actors or A Stage

"Susurrus" Opens May 20

The inaugural season of international theater programming by ArtsEmerson: The World on Stage will wind to a close with the Boston premiere of David Leddy’s "Susurrus" (soo-SUR-uhs), which opens May 20. The performance s recommended for audiences age 16 and older.

To experience "Susurrus," which doesn’t happen in a traditional theater, audiences will follow a map around Boston’s Public Garden as they listen to the piece, adapted especially for Boston, on MP3 player and headphones. (The word "susurrus" refers to the rustling sound of wind in trees.)

As a play without actors and without a stage, "Susurrus" is part radio play, part recital, part lesson in bird dissection, and part stroll in the park. As audiences follow their map around the Public Garden, they'll listen to the piece on their headphones; the different elements forming, according to The Guardian, a “perfect melding of location and text to create a theater experience in which there are no actors and only one member in the audience: you.” The listener will hear snippets about opera, memorial benches, and botany, which fit together into a mournful and poignant story of love and loss that is “a sensual reinterpretation of 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' with a contemporary edge.” (The List)

The maps that audiences will read are specially commissioned artworks from highly acclaimed Scottish visual artist Laura Molloy whose work has graced everything from cutting-edge fanzines to Belle and Sebastian record covers. Leddy and Molloy closely collaborate on creating a new map of the route for each location by taking visual patterns in railings, benches and paving in the park and transforming them into specially drawn borders and backgrounds for each new map.

Headphones and MP3 player are supplied. Running time is 1 hour 20 minutes (although the process can be paused). Journeys take place between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., leaving at 20 minute intervals, on the hour, 20 minutes past the hour and 40 minutes past the hour. The piece includes about a mile of walking on paved pathways. Umbrellas will be provided in the case of rain. Headphone pickup will be on Boylston St. between Charles and Tremont. All directions will be provided with ticket purchase.

In celebration of "Susurrus," ArtsEmerson will screen "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" -- starring James Cagney, Mickey Rooney, Olivia de Havilland, and Dick Powell -- using a special Library of Congress print. Screenings take place at the Paramount Center, in the Bright Family Screening Room on May 28 and 29.

David Leddy is an award-winning playwright and director based in Glasgow. He has been described as "Scotland’s hottest, edgiest young playwright" by The Sunday Times, a "theatrical maverick" with "propensity for fearless experiment" by the Financial Times and a "site-specific genius" who is "one of the most interesting dramatic writers on the Scottish scene" and "one of Scotland’s leading theatre-makers" by Joyce McMillan in The Scotsman.

Outside Scotland his work has been seen in London, Amsterdam, Milan, Boston, Buenos Aires, Cork and Delhi. He aims to create dramatic new writing that draws on elements of site-based performance and experimental live art in order to open up avant-garde performance styles and make them more accessible to new viewers. He often makes work in public or unconventional spaces from a glasshouse to a graveyard, from a train shed to a pitch-black cupboard.

For information and tickets, call 617-824-8000 or visit

-- OnStage Boston



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