IF you’re like me, you won’t have been particularly aware that, in the era BC (that is, Before Covid), a “chalk walk” was a thing.

For us, the uninitiated, a chalk walk is one in which you and, perhaps, a companion (or, Before Covid, companions plural) take a walk, stopping occasionally to make chalk markings on pavements and walls.

These markings can be directions (“turn left at the chip shop”), instructions (“roar like a lion”) or, simply, life-affirming reflections or observations (“this too shall pass”). Alternatively, a chalk walk can be an outlet for your artistic instincts (a drawing of a flower, say).

The possibilities are pretty much endless, and, crucially, a chalk walk isn’t just for children.

Fortunately for the good people of Edinburgh (and, the producers hope, Glasgow and other cities in the near future), acclaimed theatre-maker and site-specific performance specialist Ben Harrison (of Grid Iron theatre company fame) is a past aficionado of chalk walks. In these days of lockdown and, for many of us, state-directed loneliness, it occurred to Harrison that the chalk walk might be put to a good artistic and social purpose.

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 (namely, Emma Snellgrove, Neil John Gibson and BSL performer Lou Howie). Having done the meet and greet at a designated spot in one of four Edinburgh districts (or three Edinburgh districts, plus Leith, if you’re of a People’s Republic of Leith persuasion), the physically distanced, Covid-compliant strangers embark, chalk in hand, on an hour-long stroll around the local area.

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.

The subjects ranged from the locations of our respective childhoods, to the comparative architectures of Edinburgh and Glasgow, stage representations of the human body and sexuality, the evils of corporal punishment (in Scotland and India), Buddhism and socialism. This might sound like a selected highlights programme of Melvyn Bragg’s radio show In Our Time, but it wasn’t like that at all.

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.

It also serves, in this time of restricted human interaction, as an intriguing reminder of the fact that we are all performers of different roles in various aspects of our lives. Our society might locate the notion of “performance” in a special category inhabited by professional actors, dancers and the like, but we all, consciously or subconsciously, adopt a variety of personae, never more so than when we are meeting someone for the first time.

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.

Chalk Walk takes place in various Edinburgh locations until February 27 chalkwalkscotland.com