TORONTO - The arts and culture industry has been hit hard in the wake of Covid-19. But the industry’s revival is spurred on by an immersive, contemporary multimedia theatrical experience called The Spectator’s Odyssey – o dell’Inferno.
Created by Daniele Bartolini, artistic director of the internationally acclaimed, Italian Canadian DopoLavoro Teatrale (DLT) and developed in support with TO Live, the artistic experience connects the audience and transports them between the world of art and behind the scenes of two of Toronto’s most iconic buildings.
The creative project is an adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey and Dante’s Inferno. Both ancient and epic, the poems tell the story of two extraordinary voyages. One tells the story of Ulysses’ journey home after the Trojan War and the many perils he encountered. The other describes Dante’s journey through Hell. The creators of the Toronto production reimagine these fabled stories and bring the audience into the piece to explore their own individual “odyssey” and “inferno”.
The unique experience combines the immersive qualities of alternate reality gaming and the emotional impact of high-level theatre. A type of ’choose-your-own adventure’ in which the audience becomes the central character in the narrative they experience.
Participants will begin their journey at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. Depending on the voyage they choose, their adventure will take them to remote parts of the backstage area or the historic St. Lawrence Market.
Should spectators choose the Blue experience, they will embark on a multi-disciplinary experience inspired by Homer’s Odyssey. It involves a combination of dance, music, sensorial landscapes, installations, new immersive technologies and virtual reality filming as participants move through different spaces of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.
In the Red experience, inspired by Dante’s Inferno, guests are invited to travel the ’hidden underworld’ obscured between the streets of Toronto and the iconic St. Lawrence Market. Participants are encouraged to explore a world suspended between ancient and contemporary, sacred and profane and to lose oneself in the guided, outdoor immersive experience at night.
“It is as if each audience, in each space, through a different art form, encounters a different side of themselves”, said Bartolini. “It is an odyssey of art forms, an inferno of the exploration of the human condition”, he added.
The Spectator’s Odyssey – o dell’inferno opens today and runs through to November 14. In keeping with Covid-19 safety protocols, small groups of eight will begin their voyage at 15-minute intervals with the first starting at 7pm. Each experience lasts approximately one hour with an invitation for the participant to move towards the unknown and explore an adventure that straddles the line between fiction and reality.
P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The photo of the St. Lawrence Centre is from TOLive.com