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L'UniThéâtre stages tactile theatre

Edmonton's Francophone theatre company showcases La boîte sensorielle
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A support player packs boxes with 10 mystery props to be explored during L’UniThéâtre's La boîte sensorielle running March 27, April 1 to 3, and April 8 to 10.

In today’s climate, tactile theatre is a new form of experimentation that allows audiences to rediscover the importance of play simply by closing our eyes. 

In the first of its kind for Edmonton’s Francophone theatre, L’UniThéâtre has partnered with Calgary’s Ghost River Productions to create an on-the-skin tactile adventure that combines touch with a streaming, storytelling medium. 

La boîte sensorielle (Sensory Box) is a bold, brave journey that removes all the visual elements people normally rely on to enjoy a theatrical experience. Deprived of sight, participants must rely on touch to stimulate the imagination. 

“Here’s how it works,” said Eric Rose, artistic director of Ghost River Productions and the driving force behind the experimental sensory theatre. “You buy a ticket at least three days before the show you want to see. You can pick up a wrapped box at the theatre or have it shipped to your house. But don’t open it until the performance, because every object inside is utilized in a different way. 

On the day of the show, find a bit of space on a table and place the box next to a device. You can use any device that uses Internet, but a computer works the best because you’ll be blindfolded. Once blindfolded, wait for the instructions and you can take off.” 

The mystery box contains about 10 props. Actor-writer and host Chris Duffy, the show’s Francophone translator, will guide participants through the 75-minute streaming event speaking exclusively in French. 

“Chris has a Masters (degree) in creative writing from Guelph and works as a performer. He has great style and a lovely way of expressing the inexpressible. He knows how to set up a story so you can feel the full experience of your own thoughts.”  

For Rose, this show is an acknowledgement that life has changed and there is no turning back. 

“It can be scary, but there are immense opportunities as well. It’s about giving people the opportunity to express their own experiences. Our goal is to help an individual experience what the objects mean to them. It’s also about adults remembering what it’s like to be a child. There are moments of reflection, but it’s not a heavy show.”  

Until now, all of Ghost River Theatre’s sensory shows were performed in English. Intrigued by the exploratory concept, L’UniThéâtre’s artistic director, Vincent Forcier, commissioned the performance creation company to produce a translation of Sensory Box

A special presentation of La boîte sensorielle runs March 27 as part of World Theatre Day. It starts up again April 1 to 3 and April 8 to 10. Tickets are $25 to $30. Visit www.lunitheatre.ca