I had the great privilege of participating as a tour guide in this remarkable experience,
a 2.5 hour blindfolded tour of the city…
Do You See What I Mean? by Projet in Situ (Lyon, France)
Presented by the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, and Urban Crawl, Sponsored by Terra Breads
Do You See What I Mean? invites you—the spectator—to experience Vancouver in a radically new fashion, turning the routine of daily life into an extraordinary journey of heightened senses and transformed perceptions. Created by Lyon-based choreographers Martin Chaput and Martial Chazallon, this captivating piece of one-on-one theatre is a 2½ hour blindfolded tour into the streets, storefronts and secret spaces of our city. Do You See What I Mean? is a deeply transformative work wherein spectators’ everyday worldview is radically re-positioned in an emotional and interpersonal manner.
Tour Guide Response:
This has been a beautiful experience. When my first blindfolded companion and I set off she was nervous, as evidenced by her firm grip on my elbow. This point of touch became our greatest communicator. It was through the tightness of her grip and the eventual, and remarkable, release that I could gage her comfort level. At one point I was conscious of how light her touch was and how willingly she had surrendered to the moment. What an honour to be gifted with so much trust, and to witness such curiosity, confusion, discovery, and surrender.
The tour had many stops along the way, each memorable in it’s own right. I was particularly engaged by my final two home visits to the same home. In the first visit we were guided through a rowing lesson, complete with rowing machine. In the second visit, with a new blindfolded companion, the homeowner guided through an intellectual and physical activity that involved building chair he had designed. In both cases, the generosity of the person who opened their home and the willingness of the blindfolded participant were remarkable. I am curious about the relationship of moving and tension release in these walks. The blindfolded participants seemed changed after these encounters. I sensed that they were more comfortable in their bodies. More trusting.
There’s more I’m formulating about physical contact as a form of authentic communication. And there’s also something about the transference of experience, about empathy and listening with the whole body to the moment as it unfolds, in relationship. Each participant of the tour was different, the routes and stops changed from walk to walk, the weather varied, yet certain things stayed constant such as an opening to the experience of being in a new relationship with familiar surroundings made unfamiliar. As a guide it made me listen more, witness more, and engage more than I usually do as I walk the streets I inhabit.
There is something profound about having someone in my care, and negotiating the curious balance of who was leading and who was following at any given moment. Usually I had to earn the trust of my companions, which was negotiated through shifting who set the pace. Interestingly, I found it was my physical gait, the slight bounce in my step and the natural swaying of the guiding arm that seemed to most elicit the release response in my companions.
The walk was beautifully crafted so that by the time we were in the final outside stretch of the tour, the silent, smooth, and swift glide was comfortable and relaxed. It proved a fantastic primer for the near final and most beautiful part of the tour, which I won’t spoil for those who hope to take this tour as it travels to other communities around the world.
Thanks Projet in Situ and PuSh for an utterly unique and most incredible experience.
* the graphics and project description are from the Push Festival online program*