Call Cutta: theatre by telephone

january 2008 -

You want a ticket to a theatrical performance, but instead you receive a telephone. When it rings, an unknown Indian voice can be heard at the other end. This voice carries you through alleys, stairways and gardens in the area for an hour. Small exercises and critical questions cause the distinction between reality and fiction to continually fade. You are no longer an observer of your environment. Along the way you discover that you have become an actor in Call Cutta, theatre by telephone.

In 2005, the German/Swiss theatre collective Rimini Protokoll (Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel) started the Call Cutta project in the Hatibagan section of Calcutta In cooperation with an Indian call centre, Rimini Protokoll developed the concept of theatre by telephone. Wetzel: "The possibilities offered by cellular telephones are unlimited. On every street corner, monologues can be seen - people gesturing, laughing and even yelling – and that is exactly the type of acting that inspired us to make Call Cutta." The call centre staff used PowerPoint presentations, cellular telephones and improvisation to lead the 'visitors' to the theatre through sections of the city. "We have had numerous productions that took place outside of the actual stage. Our objective is to bring regular people into contact with theatre in various ways."

The theatre was so successful that it moved to Berlin in 2006. While the caller and the visitor were in the same city in the past, now they were suddenly three thousand kilometres apart. And yet this great distance was not a problem. To the contrary: this project is an excellent example of globalisation. Time and space are no longer obstacles in the exchange of information.

Rimini Protokoll recently received a contribution from the European Cultural Foundation for the project's next phase, called Call Cutta in the Box, which will premiere in the Nationaltheater in Mannheim in April 2008. This time the audience will be in a room from where they will call the call centre in India. To complete the project, a web site will be launched where the live shows can be viewed. Anywhere in the world.