My first day at Call Cutta yesterday; turns out, it'll be my only one for the next two weeks. It went off well enough, and I'm wondering what the final script will turn out to be like.
Perhaps I should describe what the project is all about, first, and go on from there. Ok, say you're coming for a show. So you buy a ticket for say, the 4 p.m. show on Saturday. You go to the theatre at 3.45 and by 4 you have been fitted out with a phone (perhaps with a handsfree attached). You've been seated in a specific chair inside a room and asked to wait for your call.
At 4 p.m. you receive a call from one of us actors, and your show begins.
Now, in the first phase, we would introduce ourselves, confirm your identity and start guiding you out of the place you're in. You'd be given precise instructions, have landmarks described to you and told to note certain objects/writing/people/places as you walked. You'd walk down streets, alleys, in and out of houses, ruined theatres and abandoned railway stations and all the while, we'd be spinning a tale. We would tell you about ourselves, and ask about you. We would connect, over things we share and things we don't. It's, incidentally, amazing how much you can have in common halfway across the world.
You know you're talking to an actor in the guise of a call centre worker and some of the stuff I say may be utterly outrageous, but the connection we're building allows us both to laugh over the outrageousness of it all. And if you're a player, you play along and do some acting of your own.
At the end you and I would 'meet', over a video streamed over the internet. Whatever the walk itself has been like, the meeting is invariably a little exciting.
This is how we did it in 2005. First we did it for a couple of months here in Cal (the walks were in an area called Hatibagan in north Calcutta) and then we did it in Berlin.
In the second phase, which is what we're working on now, the Riminis added a twist. (They are the creator-directors of Call Cutta, among other, equally intriguing, psycho-theatrical projects.) They decided to work on the same idea, except that you, the audience, never leave the room. You stay in it for the 50 minutes that the show runs, and you do stuff within the room.
That's about all I'm going to say about it now, because I don't want to spoil the suspense. But yeah, if you're in any of the cities where we perform this year, you should definitely catch a show. I think we're performing in Mannheim, Paris, Zurich, Copenhagen and a few other places I cannot remember right now.
To me, it's a fun job. I can leave when bored and it doesn't reflect badly on my CV; I get paid pretty well although I'll admit that the work can get quite stressful (imagine doing 3 shows almost back to back each night); the hours are flexible (I only work when I can); and it's very interesting.
I bet it beats your nine-to-fiver.