Good theatre excites, moves, thrills and entertains its audience. But sometimes, it serves another purpose. Innovative production The Uncommercial Traveller uses performing arts to create unique guided tours of cities around the world, including London, Portsmouth, Melbourne, Singapore, Karachi, Penang and Cape Town. These productions, run by the Archola Theatre and Punchdrunk, are not set under the stage lighting of a conventional theatre, but these unconventional theatre plays to bring their audience out onto their local streets…
The inspiration for The Uncommercial Traveller came from one of Charles Dickens’ lesser-known non-fictional books that goes by the same name. Dickens was fascinated by people’s experiences of city life, and he spent a great deal of time exploring them. During his travels, the famous insomniac would spend his nights discovering the aspects of cities that remained hidden from public view. The back streets and underbelly of familiar locations were of particular interest to him. He recorded his observations and personal opinions in The Uncommercial Traveller, which inspired many of his future literary works.
The aim of audio tours is to develop a creative and reflective tour in each location by using Dickens’s approach of seeking out forgotten places and uncovering hidden stories. The tours are created through a series of workshops with students, local artists, and theatre practitioners.
This unique exploration is another reinvention of theatre as we’ve traditionally known it – made possible through new technology. Through these unconventional theatre plays, the audience will be able to listen to the production on MP3 players. Performances won’t just happen within the setting of the theatre: there will be no stage curtain, stage or seating. It will be an unusual experience and will hopefully draw a new audience to the performing arts.