Bear with us while we try to explain what A Thousand Ways, a three-part participatory show that's currently playing at the Public Theater—is all about.
Mounted by the experimental company 600 Highwaymen, the trifecta of installments is described as "a triptych of encounters between strangers." To put it simply, attendees are asked to actually become the actors in each play, following a script to be recited to (and across from) another participating stranger. The goal? To get through your role, both in terms of dialogue and actionable prompts included in the write out.
"Part One: A Phone Call" casts two audience members to "follow a carefully crafted set of directives," reads the show's official description. "Over the course of the journey, a portrait of each other emerges through fleeting moments of exposure and the simple sound of an unseen voice."
To be clear: this first show takes place over the phone. Twenty-four hours prior to your allotted ticket date, you will receive a phone number to call at a scheduled time. A nameless, faceless voice will guide your one-hour phone conversation with another participating stranger.
"Part Two: An Encounter," on the other hand, is an in-person play. Upon entering the Public Theater, you'll be asked to sit at a small table opposite a stranger. You'll notice some objects and a stack of index cards laid out in front of you alongside instructions that will guide you through the experience.
As a finale, "Part Three: An Assembly" will actually be a large-group, in-person show "made up of you and the other strangers from this project's journey." Dates and tickets for the last part of the project have yet to be released.
Incredibly creative both in form and function, A Thousand Ways is part of a roster of shows born out of the pandemic that seek to shape shift into productions that not only abide by the health and sanitation guidelines that have become modus operandi across the world but also deliver a message directly related to the out-of-the-ordinary year we've all just lived through.
"Each installment of A Thousand Ways explores the line between strangeness and kinship, distance and proximity, and how the most intimate assembly can become profoundly radical," reads the project's official website. The profoundness of human contact—even among strangers—is exactly what the show plays upon... and it is exactly what we need to focus on after months and months devoid of proper face-to-face interaction.
You can buy tickets for Part One and Part Two of the show right here.