BeautyNewsNYC scored a Q&A with the talented Martín Bondone, writer, and co-director of ODD MAN OUT.
Tell us about yourself and your background:
“I started doing theatre in high school and continued when I moved to Buenos Aires despite pursuing a career in Social Economics. In 2004 I started working on a play for Teatro Ciego and, right before finishing my degree, I dropped out of University to pursue what would end up being my calling. Working closely with Gerardo Bentatti, founder of Teatro Ciego in Argentina, we combined what I had learned from my formal studies with Teatro Ciego’s technique to create a social project that would create theatrical experiences in complete darkness that would include visually impaired artists in each production. This would turn out to be the first show in the world to be produced without the sense of sight and with a staff made up primarily of individuals with a visual disability. We are excited to be able to bring this groundbreaking show to the New York theatre scene through PITCHBLACK Immersive Experiences.”
Tell us about ODD MAN OUT:
“ODD MAN OUT tells the story of a blind musician returning to his home city, Buenos Aires, after self-exiling in New York for the majority of his life. By immersing the audience in the story of a blind person, we challenge them to enter the experience in what we call “Visual Silence”: experiencing all senses but sight. It’s a show about love. About being human and how love affects us. It’s not only a physical journey but also an emotional one into ourselves.”
How has theatre-making changed for you in the age of COVID-19?
“We believe there is definitely a shift when it comes to making theatre after the pandemic. In our case, we had a rigorous process of adapting our ongoing plays into at-home box experiences first, and later as socially distanced shows without actors. This way the audience members can still enjoy a rich and transportive experience. Now our plays are enjoyed individually, with each audience member perceiving the sounds and the numerous sensorial moments in a unique way. We use a new technology called binaural sound that allows each person to experience the show through the wireless studio headsets we provide as if it were happening around them, immersing them into a new spatial dimension.”
What would you say to someone who thought theatre wasn’t for them?
Theatre is inherently a human trait – it creates the capacity to imagine situations and stories, and to live them with others.
“One of the biggest needs we have as a society right now is the need to share live experiences and be present with others and getting out of the virtual world and the lockdown so that we can live socially. Theatre is one of the few artistic forms that allows us to do that: to leave our minds for a bit and envelope ourselves in a story that is happening right here and right now. Theatre is for everyone. It’s about experiencing someone else’s story and empathizing with it. It starts with allowing ourselves to be open to others.”
What role does darkness play in ODD MAN OUT?
“Darkness allows us to create something magical: that for one moment we can let go of perceiving things as they appear and begin using our imagination without limits. Our sight can play tricks on us and, conditioned by our cultural environment, force us to label and judge things as we see them without having any interaction with them. Our brain is constantly processing the information we receive from our surroundings, and almost 80% of that information is perceived visually. Which means, we only use one-fifth of our brain’s capacity to process non-visual stimuli. By entering a space of visual silence, we expand our capacity to process all that neglected information and experience it in all its splendor. Aromas, textures, sounds, and flavors feel more compelling, and our emotions are, therefore, generated from a different perception. Darkness is an emotional device; that’s why we tend to close our eyes when we get excited or want to really unlock a feeling. We all kiss better with our eyes closed.”
What is something you wish you knew about theatre when you were younger that you know now?
“Realizing I wanted to make theatre for a living was a long process. I originally pursued a career in Social Economics because I wanted to apply that knowledge to making the world a better place. Time taught me that I could do that through theatre, and Teatro Ciego in particular. Theatre is a transformative experience not only for the ones making it but also for the audiences that undergo a story in front of them and find themselves moved by it. We tend to forget what an important healing role art has.”
What do you hope audiences walk away with?
“I want those who come to experience ODD MAN OUT to discover that things aren’t all that they seem, and that we all perceive the world from our own place, and we all have a way of constructing our own reality. By putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we can understand that we are all unique and unable to be duplicated, and that in diversity we find the richness of humanity.”
Where can people get tickets to ODD MAN OUT?
How long is ODD MAN OUT running?
“ODD MAN OUT is running from November 3rd, 2021 to December 4th, 2021, at The Flea Theater.”