SummerWorks '17 Review: The Invisible City08 August 2017 / by Philip Zave Wiseman (author)
I admit, after reading about The Invisible City and its interactive nature, I was scared. Being led through a series of questions with the purpose of opening up about my dreams and personal story, to a group of strangers, is the opposite of the typical theatrical experience. Usually I go to the theatre to escape into an immersive world of fictionalized stories, allowing me to completely forget about my own life for a few brief moments.
This experience is split into two episodes. Episode One: ‘The phone call’ actually ended up being therapeutic: there is something freeing about sharing your story with strangers over the phone. Non-sexual intimacy is something that I am fascinated with. Sharing a few brief moments of your life and listening to the humanity in the voice of another is a powerful and impactful exercise.
As the experience continues into the next day I found the very nature of what I had previously learnt about trust to be questioned. After being blindfolded and taken by the hand into a land of the unknown, I knew this experience was quickly evolving in my mind, into an unforgettable one.
It is hard to write about this interactive adventure without giving too much away, but Episode 2, which happens 24 hours after the initial phone call, did a fantastic job at tying it all together. As a participant, the experience is very much like life, whereas you will get back tenfold what you put in. The process of creating an experience like this is not easy, but this is not Daniele Bartolini’s first creation. He founded DopoLavoro Teatrale in 2006 and since then the group has been creating and preforming interactive, audience-specific theatre, in Europe, India, Canada and around the world.
On a technical standpoint, the experience was incredible across the board. Sound Designer Matteo Ciardi created the ethereal dreamscape. Rory de Brouwer, Danya Buonastella, and Joslyn Rogers led the journey in a beautiful, engaging way. And the set was equally captivating, featuring small and large details including a white leaning tower of city structures (you will see what I mean).
What makes this performance unique from DLT’s other works is that this is the first one that involves the challenge of turning a small group of strangers into a community. I am now Facebook friends with the two others that I shared the experience with, a decision we came to on our own after the production had ended. This is a remarkable accomplishment and I am excited to see how this concept evolves in DLT’s future productions.
The interactive journey touches on themes of commodity, identity, what connects us, what divides us, dreams and community. I highly recommend checking out The Invisible City yourself with performances until August 12th, which can be booked online (if it is not already sold out.)
I had the chance to talk to Daniele before seeing the performance about his artistic process. You can have a listen to the interview here.