A visionary theatre company is planning to blindfold everyone in the audience at its next ground-breaking show.
Out of Character are debuting their new show Voices Of Reason at [email protected] on Friday 19 November.
And everyone who goes to see it won’t see anything – because they will be blindfolded throughout the show.
Voices Of Reason will instead be a multi-sensory audio drama which aims to transport audiences to the many different worlds of Georgian England.
YorkMix spoke with Out of Character artistic director Paul Birch to find out more about the show.
“I made a previous show, The Nuisance Inspector, with York Explore which was also a live audio drama,” said Paul. “I wanted to build on the creative lessons I learned through the making of that show.”
“Also, this story is about voices – it seemed appropriate to make another epic audio show!
“The blindfolds make it more easier [for audiences] to create their own version of the characters and landscapes in their own minds.
“Come to think of it we should probably credit them as co-creators in the programme!”
Voices Of Reason tells the true story of mental health reform in York in the early 1800s, after the death of quaker patient Hannah Mills at the York Asylum – which is now Bootham Park Hospital.
“Our story focuses on how a reluctant county magistrate begins to discover some dark truths and how the people of the city of York forced change,” said Paul.
“It’s a story about uncovering corruption and abuse – but our story is about hope and change.
“This show is not focused so much on mental illness but on everyday folk who can find the courage to change the society in which they live.”
The show will also be experimenting with sound and smell. Sound designer Matt Seymour will create prerecorded ‘sound worlds’ of each location, and cellist Rachel Gray will be playing all the music live.
“To add to the worlds created in sound we are experimenting with using various scents throughout the show,” Paul said. “We have no idea if this will work wonderfully, be a distraction or have no real affect whatsoever!”
Based at York St. John University, Out of Character is a theatre company where all artists involved have lived experience of mental illness. The company are passionate about making theatre which explores those issues.
Voices Of Reason will be Out of Character‘s first return to live theatre since the pandemic hit.
How might this show resonate with audiences of today? “I think it’s a modern story that just happens to be set in the past,” said Paul.
“Public health has come to the fore since the pandemic and we are surrounded by constant stories of corruption and lack of transparency. This show speaks to those issues.
“It’s also an inspiring story and we hope that it will encourage people who are already fighting to change the world for the better on a variety of issues.
“We hope [audiences] will be transported.”
Tickets for this Friday’s performance have sold out, but there will be two more chances to experience Voices Of Reason.
A second performance will take place on 16 December at York St. John University, while a third performance will be part of the launch of the new York St. John Creative Centre on 3 February.
Visit Out of Character‘s website for ticket details for future performances and to keep up to date with their latest projects.