My daughter was in her bedroom, my husband in his office, and I in my bedroom, when we made our individual calls and were connected to a robot who managed our individual hour-long theatre experiences with another theatre patron. It seems correct to refer to this event as avant garde since it was off the charts as far as any theatre performance I’ve even been to. Providing excitement in a safe environment, this production called “A Phone Call” offered theatre and the requisite intrigue.
It was not a “get to know you” call, and it was not a conversation. It was a tennis match of questions asked and answered alternately between each of us and our partners. I learned a bit about what another random theatre-attending human is like. We had to describe what we were sitting on. I had to say what year I was born and in turn she was asked if she was alive at that time. She had to describe a photo of herself as a child. I had to hum a song I knew. She had to say what was missing from her life. And then to recite something from memory, anything at all. In my daughter’s case this ended up being the Preamble to the Constitution which she’d been required to learn in middle school. I was asked if I had any tattoos, and when I said “no” I was asked why not.
It’s difficult to do this experience justice here, but as a theatre patron I liked the creative effort that went into devising questions that by virtue of the need to provide answers, skewed one’s understanding of the other person.
It all seemed to revolve around the idea that it takes more than just words to know someone. The answers to questions elicited intrigue as we each got a fleeting peek into someone else’s world. When asked what we’d remember most about the other person I said it would be how my partner got choked up when asked to describe something no longer with her. She’d remember the scene I described of my father hard at work at a desk late at night.
It was fascinating and ingenious and thought-provoking and emotional. It could trick someone uncomfortable with revealing themself or looking inward into doing just that.