Review: the DLT Experience. Theatre On-Call

by Lynn on May 14, 2020

in The Passionate Playgoer

From the wonderfully inventive people at DopoLavoro Teatrale  (DLT) (DopoLavoro Teatrale we have “Theatre On-Call” their initiative to cope with being at home while we deal with “the virus”.

DLT (dopolavoroteatrale) is an international award winning company that is dedicated to innovative and experimental multi-disciplinary productions. Often, but not always, their work is immersive, with the audience engaging directly in and with the production.

Theatre On-Call is their latest creation in which ‘audiences’ have a theatrical experience via the telephone. There are two options. The first is Bedtime Stories Collective in which you are called at a certain time to hear various stories that are told to you to get you in the mood to go to sleep.

The second initiative is Invisible City, Episode 2. Participants are invited to join a ZOOM meeting (just audio, not visual), in which the listeners are read excerpts on cities from various readings. And the participant is engaged in conversation with the creators of the initiative.

Bedtime Stories Collective.

Before the phone call you are instructed to make sure your phone is charged; that you are comfortable in your pyjamas; that you have brushed your teeth and wherever you are receiving the call, the lights are turned down for relaxation.

Danya Buonastella called me at the appointed hour and ensured it was me who had answered and she told me who she was. In the most lilting, calming voice she read me about seven stories or poems that were both serious and whimsical. One was “Hypnotized” by Shel Silverstein, in his usual prickly, impish way with a situation. There was George Saunders’ story “Sticks” about an eccentric father who decorated a pole for various holidays and affixing some sticks to it on one occasion. It was odd, compelling and even a bit sad. The call ended with a poem? Story? In which various things were wished “good night”. I can’t remember really if this was the wonderful “Goodnight Moon” but Danya Buonastella reading it had so much gentleness and compassion I kind of wished it was. And I was softly wished good night. A perfect ending to a lovely call.

If there is a comment it’s that in spite of the wonders of technology cell phones can be finicky and the sound quality can be a touch murky. The overall effect of the call though was lovely.

The next night I ‘participated’ in a Zoom call for Invisible City, Episode 2. In this initiative various participants joined Daniele Bartolini and Rory de Brouwer to explore through the written word, the beauty and mysteries of cities. I, Bartolini and de Brouwer were in Toronto, another participant was joining from Hong Kong and another was in Montreal. We had the option of engaging in conversation or just listening. I chose the latter. Bartolini had an added connection to the subject; that evening he took his parents to the airport where they would fly home to Florence, Italy. They had been with Bartolini and his wife and toddler for 63 days. Now they were going home to Florence. Bartolini was born there and loved the place (me too). His longing was touching.

Rory de Brouwer read from two books that gave a view of cities from different times: “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino dealt with many cities referencing the different times of  Marco Polo and Kublai Khan; “City of Glass” by Paul Auster (from his New York Trilogy) talked about the magic of New York in modern times. That magical look gradually revealed the grunge, grime and sadness of the place on closer reflection.

Rory de Brouwer read in a clear almost poignant voice. After each reading Bartolini asked the participants how they viewed cities; what intrigued them about where they lived; what was an ideal city. The participants plus de Brouwer and Bartolini shared their relationships to various cities. It was a deeply felt, highly personal viewing of what a city meant to each person, and certainly to me, who did not verbally share my ideas of where I live, but still appreciated the conversation.

Such depth of thought of an intriguing question or idea is typical of DopoLavoro Teatrale and the wonderful work they do.

This initiative continues until the end of May.

You can find out the full show line up here:

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