Nathan Leigh is a composer, writer, animator, and activist. His latest full-length album with band The Crisis Actors Myths, Conspiracy Theories, and Other Stuff I Made Up To Sound Interesting was released in April 2020.

Watch the video for Leigh’s latest single “Pirkei Avot” below:

Leigh has composed music and designed sound for over 300 plays at theatres across the country including American Repertory Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, New York Theatre Workshop, Cherry Lane Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Group, The Debate Society (Gothamist: Best Sound Design 2007 for The Eaten Heart), Stoneham Theatre (IRNE Best Sound Design 2009 for Strangers On A Train), Central Square Theatre (IRNE Best Sound Design 2010 for The Hound of the Baskervilles), and many more.

With Kyle Jarrow, Leigh co-created the musicals Big Money (WTF Boris Segall Fellowship 2008) and The Consequences (World Premiere 2012 at WHAT). With the Liars and Believers ensemble, Leigh composed scores for adaptations of Song of Songs, Icarus, and A Story Beyond. With Megan Sass, he is the composer and lyricist for The Mad Scientist’s Guide (NYC Fringe 2015). Leigh is the composer and playwright of Let’s Start a Zine, Orpheus, the Liar, and Our Lady of the Holy Powerstrip, as well as the serialized musicals Sealand! and William Henry Harrison: Time Detective.

Leigh is a founding member of the long-running arts activist collective The People’s Puppets of Occupy Wall Street, whose work has been instrumental in crafting visuals for large scale mass demonstrations since 2011. Their signature puppet, Lady Liberty, was recently displayed at the Musée de la Civilization in Quebec City. PPOWS have appeared multiple times as part of La Mama’s legendary puppet slam. Since 2010, Leigh has worked as the staff music columnist, interviewer, and mixtape producer for Afropunk.

On the track’s release, Leigh states:

“There’s this quote from a section of Mishna (Jewish oral tradition) called ‘Pirkei Avot’ that gets repeated a lot in activist circles: ‘You are not required to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.’ I’ve lived a life full of false starts and detours, where big bold plans are often dashed first by health and then by the financial reality that comes with poor health, and so projects that I expected to come out next month ended up delayed for years. I’ve been given a lot of ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities and then sat a lot of them out in a hospital bed. So I wrote ‘Pirkei Avot’ as a commentary on the commentary, on my struggles with having a body that often forces me to be more patient than I want to be.”

Leigh adds on the track’s accompanying video:

“The video started as a joke; what if an adventure video game where you can’t get around to saving the world because the tedious bullshit of life keeps imposing itself on you? And then as I started animating it—I animated it in Unity, which is primarily game development software—I realized even though the joke was supposed to be that it was a very unfun game to play, it was actually pretty fun to do flips while handing out resumes. I found myself just playing around in the world when I was supposed to be working on the animation. So I decided to release the game alongside the video as a playable thing on my website with some expanded ideas beyond just what you see in the video.”

Check out the Pirkei Avot video game here.

Follow Nathan Leigh & The Crisis Actors on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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