© WLDN 2020



The Vigil performance operates on the scale of the city by building an active memory, an archive, made and performed by the citizens themselves. The individual experience of the Vigil performers and the community that they create together create a meta theme and central narrative to this unique performance.

WLDN enters into a partnership with a theatre, who become the organisers, to mount and run Joanne Leighton’s performance, The Vigil. In order to enhance understanding and to ensure the smooth running of The Vigil, WLDN embarks on a vast transmission process with the organisers.

For 365 days, twice a day, a Vigil keeps watch over the city in the Shelter on a high, culminate point in the city. Each Vigil participates only once. The Vigil is free to choose their own date and time and registers for participation on the Vigil website dedicated to the project. The performance is open to everyone of adult age. In the morning the Vigil starts from sunrise, in the evening it is from an hour before sunset. The Vigil performer is silent and stands alone in the Shelter, holding a presence over the city.

The Vigil performance runs for one year, each Vigil lasts exactly one hour. It isn't necessary to be a local resident. The performance involves 2 participants per day which makes, depending on the calendar year, a total of 730 Vigils.

Originally designed by Tovo&Jamil, The Vigil shelter is the scenography in which the performance takes place. Today Benjamin Tovo creates the design of each Vigil Shelter. A unique shelter is designed for each Vigil site. On a high point overlooking a town, The Vigil must be able to see and to be seen, and the shelter is illuminated (interior and exterior) during the hour long performance.

In preparation for the Vigil, each Vigil participates in a short collective Vigil Training session. This enables transmission concerning the central ideas to The Vigil, that of performance and choreography.

Each Vigil is accompanied by a companion, a volonteer who watches over the Vigil and makes sure everything goes smoothly. They take a bi-portrait: a photo of the landscape during the Vigil, and a portrait photo after the Vigil, in front of the Shelter. Past Vigils can become Companions to continue their involvement in the performance.

Documenting the experience is a central part of this project. The Companion takes a portrait photograph of the Vigil and a landscape photograph overlooking the city. At the end of each Vigil, the Vigil write their impressions in The Vigil Journal about his or her experience. These texts and photos are regularly posted on the Vigil website, building a portrait of the Vigil and of the city, so that everyone can follow the the performance.

Events take different forms and are created and conducted by Joanne Leighton, with the presence of the WLDN dancers. An Opening event is organised on the first Vigil to celebrate the beginning of the project.

Every three months, the Organiser hosts a Sharing Evening with Joanne Leighton and her dancers to enable a meeting between all Vigils and companions who have already participated. This convivial event allows us to exchange and reflect on the presence of the The Vigil performance in the city, to share different experiences, and to meet Joanne Leighton and her team. Curators, philosophers and sociologists who have participated in the performance come together to reflect on the presence of the Vigil in the city.

At the end of the year-long performance, a Closing Ceremony brings together all 730 Vigils and their Companions, in a celebratory event created by Joanne Leighton. This is a unique opportunity for all participants to celebrate the year of The Vigil.

At the end of the year-long Vigil, to commemorate the performance, a Vigil Book is edited and published, and then presented to each participant as a gesture of thanks for their participation.