C-O-N-T-A-C-T set to bring in-person theatre back to life in Ottawa
“Follow the girl.” And that’s how the story begins…
Which girl? The one with a briefcase in a hurry to nowhere? The girl with the skateboard rolling through the neighbourhood? The one hiding under her giant sunhat?
You’ll know it’s her when you see her and if you follow her, she’ll take you on an “extraordinary journey” that will likely leave you in tears.
That’s what Resident Canadian Director for the new outdoor, in-person theatre show C-O-N-T-A-C-T Charles Roy has seen in just a few Toronto shows over the past week, where audience members have been moved by one of the most unique and innovative theatre shows to ever hit North America.
C-O-N-T-A-C-T is the first gentle step towards live in-person theatre in Ottawa, as the outdoor show makes its national capital debut at Lansdowne Park in the Glebe on July 22 after a successful run of shows in Paris, London, Rome and Toronto. It’s theatre, but with a fascinating twist. No vocal dialogue, no seating and audience members follow the actors on their roaming stage throughout the neighbourhood as the story unfolds.
“It’s very powerful,” says Roy from Toronto, admitting that it’s nearly impossible to describe the feeling one gets from experiencing the show first-hand. What makes this show so unique is that it marries technology and drama seamlessly into a compelling, moving narrative that has been able to reconnect people, not physically, but emotionally and intellectually after such a long period of isolation.
The actors in C-O-N-T-A-C-T do not speak. Rather, audience members follow the performance through a downloaded app and synced audio as two actors roam throughout Lansdowne Park and the Glebe. The journey begins when you’re told to follow a girl, but who? Then you see her and as she strolls by, you begin to hear her inner thoughts via the app. Over the next 50 minutes, the woman, whose name turns out to be Sarah will invite you into her mind and into her heart as she struggles with feelings of isolation, grief, loss and acceptance – emotions that audiences alike can all relate to. Roy says C-O-N-T-A-C-T is an answer to our disconnected world.
“You get this window into somebody else’s soul just for a bit and then life carries on and you are left with this feeling of connection, which I think is the central thing,” he says. “(C-O-N-T-A-C-T) connects you to other people in a very beautiful, meaningful way.”
“As a result of the government-imposed restrictions and the periods of social isolation and social distancing itself, we have distanced more than just physically. We have distanced from each other emotionally, intellectually. There is fracturing all over the world. Our disconnections are only increasing and this piece taps into the emotional core of that without actually referring to it directly.”
Theatre has always been a part of life worldwide. In fact, the COVID-19 Pandemic is the only event that has ever completely shut down the theatre industry in its 2,500 year existence and if you think about it, it’s no surprise. Theatre has always been a form of escape and of discovery. Either through comedy, drama or heartbreak, theatre has always helped audiences understand the world around them and C-O-N-T-A-C-T takes it a step further by giving spectators a “magical moment” while the world continues to zip by at its furious pace.
“You are privy to this extraordinary journey by this extraordinary young woman and then all of a sudden it’s over,” says Roy. “There are all kinds of complex feelings at work, which I think a lot of people are relating to. In her journey, she speaks aloud in what a lot of people have been feeling for the last year and a half, without the words. People are moved, they don’t want to leave.”
C-O-N-T-A-C-T runs from July 22 to September 5 with multiple showtimes between Tuesday and Sunday. Once you purchase your ticket, you will be directed to download the app and will be given location and other details for the show.
Click here to purchase tickets now and make C-O-N-T-A-C-T with the world again.
Presented in Ottawa by the Glebe BIA in partnership with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group and the City of Ottawa.
OTTAWA SHOW PRODUCED BY CONTACT SHOW CANADA AND THE GLEBE BIA, IN ASSOCIATION WITH ARIA ENTERTAINMENT AND WEF PRODUCTIONS