‘Landline: Calgary to St. John’s’ takes us on a simultaneous tour of two cities

Thursday 12th, January 2017 / 11:55
By Claire Miglionico

Photo: Mille Clarkes, courtesy of High Performance Rodeo

CALGARY — Landline: Calgary to St. John’s is similar to a socio-urban experiment which takes place in two places at once and involves participants from Calgary and St. John’s, Nfld. simultaneously.

Each audience member in Calgary is partnered with an audience member in St. John’s and communicates via text messaging while on an experimental audio-guided walking tour of their respective city.

Adrienne Wong, who co-created Landline with Halifax-based Secret Theatre’s Dustin Harvey, met at the PuSh Festival (International Performing Arts Festival) in Vancouver three years ago after a presentation of Wong’s show called PodPlays.

“Dustin had done a similar thing in Halifax and wondered if we could make a show that happened at both cities at the same time,” Wong says over the phone.

And that’s how Landline came together in a Big Magic* sort of way: two creators, with the same idea from opposite sides of the country.

Wong is a Calgary native who took up acting and directing at Simon Fraser University. She also worked for CBC Vancouver as a freelancer and says that Landline is in some ways a combination of her interests in radio and theatre. It will also the first piece she has made that she brings back home to Calgary.

Photo: Mel Hattie, courtesy of High Performance Rodeo

“A lot of the feedback that we get from [participants] is that they make cosmic connections,” says Wong.

Through the audio guide, team members are prompted to share memories and secrets with each other. Wong is quick to note that the conversation between pairs remains private and that participants may take on a fictional persona if they wish.

“We recognize that some people have greater comforts with intimacy than others. How far you go is up to you,” says Wong.

Pairs are also picked at random and sometimes a 20-something will be paired with somebody in their late 50s. It’s all part of the game and the mystery.

Wong says a favourite feedback from a previous Landline participant was that it was better than therapy as it is, after all, a great opportunity to reflect and gain some kind of perspective, in whatever form it may come.

“Our brains are designed to make meaning and to see patterns. So, sometimes, when you give yourself over to the flow of the experience, [you will] experience strange coincidences,” says Wong.

*Elizabeth Gilbert’s book on inspiration and creative living.

The Landline: Calgary to St. John’s tours happen three times each afternoon at the Laycraft Lounge from January 24 to 28 during the High Performance Rodeo.

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