On Monday we went to experience The Quiet Volume at Bishopsgate Library. We rushed, we were late, we turned up frustrated with a buzzing head. Swiftly relieved of excess baggage and coatage, tube rage, tabloid headlines and a louring inbox are left behind as we don headphones, slip an iPod into a pocket and sit down at a table in the beautiful, working library with our chosen partner.
Feeling a little conspicuous, a voice starts to whisper in our ear. Is our other half hearing the same thing? It's hard to tell. Stop thinking. This is an 'immersive, self generated performance' which means to get the most out of it, do as you're told, relax into it.
We won't give away what happens over the 50 minutes but we both felt, by turns, disconcerted, self conscious, thrilled, beguiled, creeped out, isolated, connected and immersed in texts, words and phrases presented to us in a uniquely engaging way.
Low key and intimate, The Quiet Volume will remind you what is was to learn to read, to experience the first time thrill of picking up a thread and following it through a book, of being plunged into the action and all at sea with only a voice in your head - the voice of the words on the page to guide you. It will challenge and amuse you, carving out almost an hour of concentrated focus on the act of reading and remind you how transporting an experience it can be.
Take some time out and enjoy the library while you can.
Experience The Quiet Volume at Bishopsgate Library 11-15 April, Hackney Central Library 16, 18-21 & 23 April then at Senate House Library 26-28 & 30 April and 3-4 May. This is a self-generated performance for 2 people. Tickets £12 a pair. We reckon you'll prefer to do it with a friend but it's not essential, single tickets are available.
Photo inside Bishopsgate Library by Tomas Valenzuela.