I’ve been trying to keep up with some of the online events that my favourite theatres have been putting on during our various Lockdowns. Theatre companies have been collaborating in ways that possibly wouldn’t be possible for physical productions (although some of these jointly-produced shows could be seen as equivalent to a touring show), which has led to my being introduced to some innovative forms of entertainment by groups I hadn’t previously heard of.
Having watched two streamed plays from Titchfield Festival Theatre (Up Pompeii! and Him and Me), I decided to investigate what the more local Lawrence Batley Theatre had to offer, especially since I’d heard very good things about their past streamed performances. The first thing to catch my eye was Project Intimacy, a collaboration with the Riptide in Leeds, a company who produce immersive theatre experiences.
Project Intimacy is a two-week-long experience that pairs participants via their mobile phones and then offers instructions on how – and for how long – pairs should communicate each day, with suggestions of conversation topics and activities. These are initially conducted entirely by text, although by the second weekend (the project began midweek), we were also able to speak to each other. Immediately after signing up we had to complete a questionnaire about our personality traits as well as our likes and dislikes: some questions being easier to answer than others.
Initial communications were mandated to be brief and involved little in the way of personal information. As we got to know each other, our conversations got longer, although we were still advised not to tell each other details such as name, age, location or gender, until our first weekend when we were challenged to go for a walk (virtually if necessary) at the same time and tell each other all about it by means of texts and photographs. My Project Intimacy Partner and I really enjoyed this challenge, and repeated it the following week, when we were allowed to describe everything in a phone call, rather than the riskier walking-and-texting method. As well as photographs from our walk(s), we were also encouraged to share photographs and anecdotes from our everyday lives, and to discuss deep philosophical questions such as how we would befriend aliens that arrived on Earth (I then found a small toy alien abandoned in a tree and quickly sent a photo to my Project Intimacy Partner).
At the end of the second week, all participants were invited to a Zoom Meet-up (it wouldn’t be a pandemic activity without Zoom!), in which we compared our experiences. My Project Intimacy Partner couldn’t make it to the meet, but I enjoyed learning how others had approached the challenges. There will be a couple more sessions running before the project is wrapped up, and I can definitely recommend them to people all over the world (some pairs struggled with being in widely different time zones, but mostly coped). I also hope to stay in touch with my Project Intimacy Partner longer term.
Next month: that other Lockdown activity/excursion I was talking about last month…