Theatre production links Calgary, St. John’s audiences in real time

‘Landline’ — interconnectedness explored


Published on January 26, 2017

I headed to the the LSPU Hall on Wednesday evening in the dark, literally and figuratively. I had very little idea as to what I had signed myself (and my trusting pal Peter) up for. Reading about Secret Theatre’s ‘Landline’ a couple weeks ago, I was intrigued. A performance that required a smartphone, a texting plan and warm clothes? Sounds immersive.

Arriving at the LSPU Hall, we were given gloves, a phone number, and an iPod loaded with one audio track. Counting down the seconds to ensure that we were in sync with the duo we would be sharing this experience with in Calgary, as part of the 31st Annual High Performance Rodeo, in collaboration with One Yellow Rabbit Theatre, we hit play and the “show” began.

A calm, soothing voice pulsed through the headphones.

She asked us to stray away from our starting point, to let the journey pull us in whatever direction it wanted. We pushed our way up the icy hills, taking a very different look at the city we knew so well.

We were told to find a location that reminded us of someone we missed. I ran down the block to the Anglican Cathedral. I ducked into an alcove where an old friend and I, clad in corpse paint, once finished our “road beers” before heading to a Halloween show. I texted my partner in Calgary, Joel, and told him why I had chosen this place. In a bizarre twist of fate, Joel was also standing in the doorway of a church, over 4,000 kilometres away. His friend had passed recently and that was where his funeral was held. This complete and utter stranger and I texted back and forth about perspectives on life — it’s “beyond amazing,” Joel said.

Standing in church doorways on opposite sides of the country, life did feel pretty amazing.

As we listened to the eloquent musings and thought provoking questions coming from the iPod, we continued traveling to our next destination: somewhere that represented change.

I headed towards my old apartment on Prospect Street, my first home in St. John’s.

Joel was at city hall, checking out a white cowboy hat that is a sign of hospitality to new Calgarians and anyone who visits. He hasn’t always called Calgary home, he explained.

Winding our way through our respective cities’ cold, wintery streets, we talked about getting lost, feeling lost, and things we had overcome in our lives. We asked each other deep questions about what we deem important, what we strive to remember.

Returning to the LSPU Hall, my friend and I returned the iPod and gloves before heading into our FaceTime date with our new pals.

Joel and Jan ate JamJams and drank tea while Peter and I scarfed down pancakes and coffee. We chatted about the experience as a whole — we had certainly had much deeper conversations than any of us had anticipated.

Peter and I left the Hall in a happy silence, thinking about interconnectedness and the gigantic yet weirdly small planet we live on.

“Letting life do what it will can sometimes be an incredible ‘thing,’” Joel said.

I’m not sure if he knows just how right he was.

“Landline” runs at the LSPU Hall in downtown St. John’s until Jan. 28. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online at www.rca.nf.ca.