It’s amazing how quickly you can establish a rapport with a coworker you’ve just begun working with. A bond is created almost instantly when you share experiences with the same solitary goal in mind. What’s even more amazing is how quickly you can establish a rapport with a coworker on the opposite end of the world.
This is something I have come to realize over the past couple of weeks while working on Rimini Protokoll‘s “Call Cutta in a Box: An Intercontinental Phone Play.”
Working as one of the project managers on this performance for the visitor services department, I have been fortunate enough to interact with the members of Rimini Protokoll in India on a near daily basis. Our morning tech-checks give us the opportunity to chat face-to-face (via webcam) with many of our colleagues. These are rare and precious moments in which we can casually discuss the upcoming performances of the day, the weather differences between Minneapolis and Kolkata ( formerly Calcutta) , and other topics one would share with a coworker. This is our version of a water cooler conversation.
Because of an eleven and a half hour time difference between Minneapolis and Kolkata, the performers must begin their day at the call center at around 3 am (a time that I’m more comfortable going to bed at than waking up). However, once at the call center they are chipper and eager to get on with the day’s performances. The majority of our callers work for the call-center full-time, calling Europe and Australia, selling everything from travel packages to credit cards. Performing “Call Cutta in a Box” allows them the opportunity to step away from the daily grind and gives them an opportunity for creative expression.
Our between-show chats with the performers gives us a unique opportunity to see their personalities, albeit in a non-verbal way. It’s fascinating how the use of emoticons can showcase the performer’s personality. One of our more bubbly performers, Alakananda, loves to send smiley faces and strong arm emoticons along with her FULL CAPS messages to us. These little computer animations let us keep the mood upbeat and playful, especially in the frequently chaotic period between performances.
We have adorned our cubicle with photos that our Calcutta colleagues have sent us of them and their families, an album that grows with each day of performances (the photo of Susmita’s young daughter is quite a heartwarming image). The pictures are a constant reminder of the humanity and culture that we are interacting with. We get a sense of their daily routines, their humor and their style (Rishi, for example, is a particularly stylish fellow with his colorful shirts and aviator sunglasses).
At the risk of sounding sentimental, I must say that I feel I have established a bond between myself and my Calcutta coworkers. A bond that our guests experience in their hour long performance. We meet new people and follow them on a journey, ultimately feeling like you’ve just made a new friend upon the conclusion. “Call Cutta in a Box” presents us with a simple interaction that has the ability to strike a very deep chord with its participants. I consider myself lucky to be able to witness this on a daily basis.
– John Kaiser, Visitor Services Associate, Walker Art Center
“Call Cutta in a Box: An Intercontinental Phone Play” runs until January 31. To make an appointment please call (612) 375-7600 or click here for more information.