Call Cutta in a Box

Mystery location, Auckland

17/02/2012 - 25/02/2012

New Performance Festival 2012

Production Details

It’s all about you and the person at the end of the phone.  

You open a door and a phone is ringing. You pick up the phone and a person with a strange accent strikes up a conversation. The person seems to know the room you are sitting in, even though they are 10,000km away. 

Germany’s reality theatre superstars bring their transcontinental phone conversation toAucklandafter touring festivals in Europe, Asia, Africa and theUSA. Rimini Protokoll are purveyors of documentary theatre, exploring a theatre of performers who are not actors but experts or specialists in their particular spheres of life – professionals of a theatre of the real world.

Rimini Protokoll creators Helgard Haug (1969), Stefan Kaegi (1972) and Daniel Wetzel (1969) studied in Giessen and have worked together in various combinations. They are recognised as the leaders/creators of the theatre movement Reality Trend (Theater der Zeit), which has exerted a powerful influence on the alternative theatre scene. Since 2000, Rimini Protokoll has brought its “theatre of experts” – nonprofessional actors to the stage and city spaces. Each project begins with a concrete situation in a specific place and is then developed through an intense exploratory process. Rimini Protokoll are artists in residence at Hebbel amUfer,Berlin.

Call Cutta in a Box is presented in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, with funding from the German Federal Foreign Office.

“…2009’s best plays, I mentioned that the best productions resonate far beyond the theatre, changing the way you think about your life. Call Cutta in a Box does that.” – Daily Planet

When:  17 to 25 February

Thurs to Sat from 4.15pm to 11.15pm
Sun to Wed from 4.15pm to 9.15pm

Duration      60 minutes

Venue Meet at Festival Box Office
Upper NZI, Level 2, Aotea Centre.
Tickets to be collected here with your directions to the special location.

Tickets Adult: $35* (No tickets will be posted).
Booking 09 357 3355 or 

Pick up the Phone

Review by James Wenley 22nd Feb 2012

The best advice I can give those who are going to Call Cutta in a Box is this: Go with your defences down, an inquisitive mind, and an open heart.  The consensus does seem to be that the less you know going into Call Cutta the better. So for those don’t want to be spoiled, read this review after you’ve seen it. But for those who can’t get to it, or just can’t help themselves, here is my experience.

At the New Performance Festival Box Office I’m given a map to an office building on Queen St. I go to Level 5 as directed and find myself in a law firm. A woman at the desk asks for my name then tells me to wait, then taps away on her computer ignoring me. It feels awfully authentic, however I recognise her as an Edge staff member, another man that comes past as an actor, another person a techie.  But for someone unaware of this conceit, I’d imagine they’d find it a bit disconcerting. I’m told they’re ready for me, and I enter a small room containing a desk, computer, pot plant, and couch. [More


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Innovative ‘reality theatre’ format satisfies and amuses

Review by Janet McAllister 20th Feb 2012

Are you nervous?” asks Mitasha “Mitu” Bhattacharya. Well yes, Mitu, thanks for asking; you’re a stranger in aCalcuttacall centre, hired to phone me on a crackly line as a theatrical performance. 

The geo-politics is loaded. I’m alone in an anonymous office, and I’m not sure what’s expected of me. But I needn’t have worried; I’m looked after like a child or psychotherapy client. Told to sit back and “open my shoes”, I can just follow instructions – asking questions if I want to – and all will be well. [More


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Delightful, charming , engaging

Review by Raewyn Whyte 18th Feb 2012

Call Cutta in a Box is arguably the most delightful, charming, engaging 50 minutes I have ever spent with a complete stranger. Celebrating the inherent performativity of everyday life, the” show” is co-performed by an audience  of one and a Kolkata-based call centre operator-performer, over the phone.

Some simple props set the scene –  an empty office in a mid-rise building in Auckland’s CBD. There are  three framed photos on the wall, tea-making facilities, a leather half-sofa, and a standard office desk with an internet-connected computer, walkaround phone, printer, potted fern, desk lamp, fan, and a promotional desk pad for Descon Limited, a Kolkata-based technology development company.

The 50 mins includes a series of “events”. Event one is finding the building to which your ticket directs you, event two is arriving into your office a couple of minutes prior to your scheduled phone conversation.  Others follow, with a series of pre-scripted  discussion topics which allow wriggle room for improvisational exchanges. The call centre performer is charged with keeping the pace up to ensure everything is completed within the time frame set.  Some simple devices are used to add a layer of piquancy and surprise to events, and these all add to a feeling of cultural exchange. Unsurprisingly, a web cam features in events.

To describe what was included in my 50 minutes with the ever-so-engaging Madhusree would be to disclose many of the elements that make this experience so charming — and as I would encourage everyone who can do so to take the time for this singularly rich experience, I will not disclose  them.

I can say, without giving too much away, that our conversation was wide-ranging, and that Madhusree and I proved to have much in common. Our rich two-way exchange of personal and family information included sensory impressions, weather conditions in Auckland and Kolkata, dreams and regrets, travel, work, favourite foods and music, along with some of the philosophical and religious aphorisms which guide one’s life.

I came away feeling that I had been talking with an old friend to whom I had not spoken in a while, and that it would not be long ’til our next conversation. Ongoing email exchanges seem likely.


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