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When producers and directors thrust their audiences into their characters’ world, engaging them in the characters’ perspective and walking them in their shoes, a show becomes memorable and relatable. Odd Man Out at the Bristol Riverside Theatre wants to do just that.
Take flight in the dark
The show is about Alberto (Gonzalo Trigueros), a blind jazz musician flying from New York City back home to Argentina. To start the experience, when audiences enter the theater, the lobby will be set up as if it were an airline lounge. “You’re going to hang out at the lounge while you’re waiting to board the plane,” said Odd Man Out’s co-director, Carlos Armesto. “Then we’ll seat you as if you’re being seated on an airplane.”
From there, the theatre will be pitch black to reflect Alberto’s experience. Audiences will have to rely on hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling during the multisensory journey. A 360-degree binaural audio system, enriched smells, tactile objects, and water and wind effects will help create an experience like Alberto’s.
Then the audience will hear Alberto’s gripping story. Armesto said that it will be like hearing a fellow passenger talk. The show was a collaboration with Teatro Ciego, an Argentinian theater company that includes blind and partially sighted artists, and Theatre C, a groundbreaking immersive theater company in New York City.
“We’re giving everybody an equal footing to experience Alberto’s life,” said Armesto. “We want to put them in his shoes and get a sense of the magical world that he experiences.”
Odd Man Out’s co-director Facundo Bogarin is totally blind. He said through Armesto that the way he works is he gets an idea of the space on stage—its architecture and environment. “I can feel it,” said Bogarin through Armesto. Armesto explained that Bogarin can direct actors by knowing spatial arrangements and sound position.
A different version of the show was supposed to have debuted at the Argentinian consulate in New York City in 2020, but these plans fell through due to the pandemic.
“In 2021, we did an at-home version with the piece,” said Armesto. “You had to buy an in-flight box where you would have the sensory elements with it.” Armesto elaborated that at the end of 2021, they did a semi-live version of Odd Man Out in New York. Armesto said that Alberto’s story coupled with the way that the show was presented, blew the audience away.
Armesto and Bogarin are excited to finally have the show’s world premiere.
What, When, Where
Odd Man Out. By Martín Bondone; directed by Bondone, Carlos Armesto, and Facundo Bogarin. $15-$35. Through December 18, 2022, at the Bristol Riverside Theatre, 201 Cedar Street, Bristol. (215) 785-0100 or brtstage.org.
Performances will be in Spanish on December 2, 4, 8, 10, 14, and 18.
Bristol Riverside Theatre is accessible to patrons using wheelchairs. They have an entrance on the left side of their theatre with a ramp. They also have a select number of seats that can be removed to accommodate a wheelchair; please call the box office to purchase these seats.
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