Remote Bangalore takes you around your familiar city from a very unfamiliar perspective. Described as street theatre, it involves a group of 50 people walking through Bangalore under the guidance of one synthetic voice. This event is part of a series called ‘Remote X’ by avant-garde theatre company, Rimini Protokoll.
When I was handed my headphones and metro pass at the Goethe-Institute on CMH Road, I really had no idea what to expect of Rimini Protokoll’s Remote Bangalore. I was dubious to be told that we were taking part in an innovative theatre performance. But the experience was mind-blowing.
Firstly, as an outsider in this hectic and intimidating city, I was able to explore parts of it which I imagine many Bangaloreans themselves may not see; quiet corners of the city tucked away from view, not to mention the extraordinary vistas from the metro. But more importantly, it was the anthropological discoveries which were most inspirational. The synthetic voice, Deepa, explored the debate of whether humans are single entities, yearning for independence, or whether humanity as one large unit would better describe our existence. I certainly felt much safer crossing the roads in a horde of people, than when we were split up into smaller groups.
And what surprised me the most was how comfortable and trusting I felt within a group of strangers. I felt at one with my surroundings in a way I had not before. I should have been reluctant to have such faith in a synthetic voice – after all, Deepa is not a real person – but I quickly succumbed to her guidance. Of course, it was organised and created by real humans and I was walking among a crowd of people, but the distinction between people and technology was a recurring theme – particularly significant in Bangalore, India’s ‘Silicon Valley’. But as I wandered the city’s streets, I could not decide whether we were the spectacle or the audience. Whilst we were stood against a wall viewing the street in front of us as if in an auditorium, we attracted a fair bit of attention ourselves – we were watching being watched. We were walking the streets like normal people, doing normal things, but our perspective had entirely changed.
Speaking to Stefan Kaegi, the director, he explained that they had been preparing the Bangalore performance since October 2013, investigating the best route possible, and dealing with issues such as the safety of the those taking part – an issue which had not troubled them on the quieter streets of Berlin. Having performed in Sao Paulo, Zurich and Lisbon to name just a few, Remote Bangalore is the group’s first step into Asia.
Described by Kaegi as ‘street art in real-time’, I would argue it was more an anthropological discovery than a performance. All I know for certain is it is not an experience to be missed.
Remote Bangalore will be on till February February 16. Daily shows begin at 4pm. Starting point: Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, CMH Road. Tickets are priced at Rs 200; get them on
www.bookmyshow.com. Only 50 participants per show.