Wednesday night I went to the 40th floor of the IDS Center and skyyped with Santanu, a telemarketer in West Bengal. Our conversation was like a terminal with many trains coming and going, some missed and some caught, with no real final destination in mind.
I recorded our conversation in preparation for this blog, but I don’t want to recount it here because it would be a shame to give anything away. Rather than some shocking surprise ending, which I guess this piece also has, Rimini Protokoll’s Call Cutta in a Box: An Intercontinental Phone Play is rather like a one-hour, continuous surprise. And the surprises engage with all the senses, which makes the performance truly transporting.
I learned something new about peacocks, call centers, and the health care system in India, but you might not. Each conversation will be different. I was mostly disarmed or laughing. Our conversation oscillated between the absurd and the very real, sometimes in the same breath. And despite its strange premise, in some ways it felt like the most natural thing in the world to be having this conversation.
For me, the piece evoked travel, the discovery of another person in a foreign place that feels so unique, intimate, and lonely at the same time. My light-rail ride home (Kolkata is coincidentally the only Indian city with light-rail-like public transportation) felt more like a departure than the usual traipsing around the city, and I can’t shake Santanu waving goodbye from 15,000 kilometers away. Buy a ticket to Call Cutta in a Box and you’ll get something like Lost in Translation without the goodbye kiss. And from the 40th floor, it’s a great view.
Rimini Protokoll’s Call Cutta in a Box: An Intercontinental Phone Play runs January 8-31, and anyone from a teenager to octogenarians could appreciate this experience. Performances run Tuesday-Friday, 5-10 pm (on the hour); Saturday and Sunday, 12 noon-9 pm (on the hour). This is a solitary performance experience and an appointment is required. Please call the Walker Box Office soon to make your reservation, as spots are limited. 612.375.7600