By Jochem Naafs
02.06.2008 / Theatre Research in Practice, http://trip.hku.nl
It is almost impossible to write about Rimini Protokoll’s Call Cutta in a Box without speaking about my personal life. I will try though, because talking about my personal life to strangers isn’t something I usually do.
After entering my office in Brussels at four o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday May 27, I felt a little awkward. I was expecting a phone call from India that day so I couldn’t really get myself into doing my office job. I was staring out of the window and noticed that someone made a painting of Gaston Lagaffe (Guust Flater) throwing a rock on an innocent pedestrian, on the wall facing my office window.
Just when I was about to sit down in my sofa for a while the phone rang. It was Priyanka Nandy from Descon Ltd. in Calcutta. We hadn’t spoken before, so we had a lot to tell each other. But first she made me a cup of lovely Indian tea. Priyanka works at a call centre in Calcutta, holds a masters in English literature and and she will start her PhD in Socio-economic anthropology next September. I told her that I was a student in Theatre Studies and wasn’t from Brussels but from Utrecht. I’m not great on the phone, I always try to make other people make my calls for me, especially when I have to make official phone calls. But Priyanka made me feel quite at ease. We were chatting for about 30 minutes when she asked me to log in to my computer. All of a sudden she hacked into my computer and her eye was on my computer, full screen! She said she did this more often, but I was the first to guess it was her eye. She turned on my webcam as well so we had a somewhat better idea of who we were talking to.
We talked about sunsets and sunrises, cultural differences, religion, study and work, family, relationships and a lot more. In no time the clock started to count down and we were forced to hang up. She asked me to keep in touch by email because she wanted some information on the use of digital media to support her PhD research. I haven’t done it yet, but I will. Hopefully she doesn’t mind the waiting. Rimini Protokoll succeeds in making you the protagonist of their performance. By gently forcing you into a personal and varied conversation you find yourself trapped inside the performance. In my case, charming and giggling Priyanka made me talk about myself and others within just a couple of minutes and of course the idea that she is in India and you will probably never see her again helps. But Call Cutta in A Box is not only about you. Your conversation partner guides the dialogue to a conversation about cultural differences in family values, standard of living and the profession of religion. Rimini Protokoll made a performance about your everyday life.