Winnipeg audiences will soon have the chance to attend a unique theatre piece - but they won’t be able to see it.
Tomorrow’s Child, based on Ray Bradbury’s short story of the same name, is set in a retro-future 1988. The story follows new parents Peter and Polly Horn, whose newborn child was born into another dimension.
Coming to Winnipeg from Calgary’s Ghost River Theatre (GRT), Tomorrow’s Child was adapted from Bradbury’s short story, originally published in 1948.
“For me, it’s really about offering people the gift of deep listening,” Eric Rose, artistic director of GRT, says.
Audience members are blindfolded and led into the performance space, where they experience the entire show without the use of sight. The play makes use of vibration, the feeling of sound. In some theatres, audience members are seated in swivel chairs, allowing for autonomy in their experience. As the promotional material declares, “this ain’t no radio play.”
“It’s vivid for people,” Rose says. “More strangely vivid than if we were to try to stage it fully with visuals and everything.
“It’s almost like a thought bubble appears over people’s heads, and you can see that they are in fact creating the theatre of the mind.”
Scott Best, a local theatre fan, is excited about the experience Tomorrow’s Child offers. Since he is blind, Best’s companions often whisper details of a play to him.
An audio-only production is “a really neat idea, because it puts everybody on a level playing field,” he says.
Unlike the typical play or a movie, Best knows that his experience at Tomorrow’s
Child will be the same as the rest of the audience.
“This kind of thing doesn’t happen very often,” he says.
This could allow “a greater level of independence that I wouldn’t have if I went to just a regular play,” he says.
Although attending an audio-only show might be an edgy experience for some theatre-goers, Rose carefully emphasizes that audience comfort is a priority.
“We’ve done this a lot, so we’re very good at what we do,” he says. “There is nothing about scaring people, any cheap thrills, nothing like this inside of this show.”
Tomorrow’s Child has story elements that will grab the attention of science fiction lovers, new parents and especially individuals with lived experience of Autism Spectrum Disorder, a press release states.
Rose wouldn’t divulge how the actual performance is delivered – whether there are live actors or pre-recorded audio. The curious must attend a show to find out. More than 5,000 people have attended the show, with audience members’ ages ranging from 12 to 80.
Tomorrow’s Child will run Oct. 25 to Nov. 5 at the West End Cultural Centre. Tickets range from $10 to $27 and can be purchased online at theatreprojectsmanitoba.ca or by phone at 204-989-2400.
Theatre Projects Manitoba is offering complimentary companion tickets to members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities and to those who are blind or visually impaired.
Published in Volume 72, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 26, 2017)