BRT’s ‘Odd Man Out’ is an immersive experience taking place completely in the dark

Odd Man Out graphic
‘Odd Man Out’ will be presented in both Spanish and English.
Provided

Bristol Riverside Theatre is giving audiences a new perspective with its latest production.

And it takes place in complete darkness.

Now through Dec. 18, BRT hosts a world premiere event, the interactive ‘Odd Man Out,’ courtesy of Argentinian theater company Teatro Ciego. Presented in both Spanish and English at 201 Cedar Street in Bristol, ‘Odd Man Out’ follows blind musician Alberto (Gonzalo Trigueros) on his journey home from New York to Argentina after a time of self-exile. Through the isolation of blindness and foreign lands, Alberto finds his own light.

Co-directed by Carlos Armesto and Facundo Bogarin with its playwright, Martín Bondone, ‘Odd Man Out’ promises to be as immersive as it is inventively and impactful as crowds will be treated to a 360-degree aural experience along with the taste, touch and smells of traveling in the dark with prejudice at the door.

Gonzalo Trigueros plays Alberto in ‘Odd Man Out,’ now on stage at Bristol Riverside Theatre. Provided

Bondone spoke with Metro about the process of performing in darkness, and how BRT’s audience might react.

What does it mean to write for the darkness?

The setting of a piece in complete darkness is 100% immersive; the audience is “inside” the scenes, sounds, aromas, and tactile sensations, such as wind and rain, happen around them. Making theater in the dark has cinematographic language. It allows scene changes to be instantaneous since it is not necessary to move or change a set. What must be considered when writing for a dark setting is to think about non-visual images, what things or situations of daily life can be built without visual resources. You build each scene thinking about the sound details, the aromas, the location in the space of each actor, etc. It is truly a new theatrical language.

What does it mean to direct for, and within, the darkness?

Directing a piece in the dark involves thinking of ways to take the audience on a journey. The spectator is part of the work. Although he does not actively participate, he is immersed in the scenes, which means that directing a team of actors to learn this language is challenging. We dedicate time during rehearsals to training the team so that they learn to function in the dark and in relation to the space; each scene is worked together with the sound engineer, each actor has to be able to perform the necessary effects to the scene while acting. For example, some special sound or necessary sensory effects will be performed by the actors themselves.

What moved you about this musician’s story and sound that you wished to dramatize and celebrate their vibration?

There is something about this character that artists can relate to; it has to do with finding the balance between the love for what they do and the love for the people around them, family, partners, friends, etc. Making decisions to dedicate yourself to an art form implies sacrificing your personal life. Sometimes demand is such that you must choose between work or relationships; balance is the key.

There are several ways to interpret the play’s title.

It represents Alberto’s experience in the play. Someone who in his place of origin feels an “odd man out” due to his blindness, and who finds a way to transcend at a professional level in music, regardless of disability. But when emigrating, being in another country with another culture, he continues to be that to a certain extent, someone who not entirely comfortable in the place where he is. Only at the end of the play will he be able to find his place.

What will BRT audiences feel in the dark? What are the more tactile elements of ‘Odd Man Out’?

A play in the dark is a truly momentous experience. Being in a pitch-black space with crowds while a play with Teatro Ciego’s characteristics is taking place is truly moving. People will have the sensation of being transported to another reality, each scene told not only by the performance of the actors that act among the audience, but sets generated in 360-degrees. The sound with surround technology, live effects, the aromas in each scene, the wind, the rain, the flavors, everything is an explosion of stimuli for the senses.

‘Odd Man Out’ at BRT is a world premiere. How does this fuel your company’s mission?

This is the beginning of establishing our company as PITCHBLACK Immersive Experiences in the U.S. In 2023 we will continue the development of different proposals: shows for children, blind gastronomic experiences, development for educational institutions. We want to be international, not something based in a specific country. I consider that the technique of creating theater in the dark generates positive change in the lives of people who experience it. The project is not only inclusive because we bring people with visual disabilities to the team, but because when working in the dark the differences in the appearance of each person are eliminated, and each one builds the characters as their imagination allows it, without having a visual prejudice or limitation.

‘Odd Man Out’ in on stage now through Dec. 18 at Bristol Riverside Theatre’s Rehearsal Studio at 201 Cedar Street, Bristol. For information and tickets, visit brtstage.org/shows/odd-man-out

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