Blind Theater Offers a New Way to “See” a Play

Can you imagine going to a play where you could not see anything because the theater was completely dark, pitch black?

Well, that’s the idea behind Teatro Ciego, a theater in Buenos Aires’ Abasto district. It’s known as blind theater, and blind doesn’t refer just to some of the cast members. Everyone — the audience, directors, actors, special effects technicians — works in absolute darkness. The cast and crew are a mix of both blind, non-blind, and differently abled folks — there are around 80 employees, and in any given show 40 percent of the actors are blind.

Here’s one reviewer’s take on the experience:

We are seated by a guide one row at a time in a very dark room, snaking past a blackout curtain in conga-line fashion, gripping the shoulders of those ahead of us. There’s not even a sliver of light from an exit sign or through a curtain. Then the performance begins: voices on stage, a dog barking from the right, the smell of dulce de leche wafting from the left and water droplets tickling my arms from above. It’s a full immersion of the senses — except for sight.

Buenos Aires-based actor Gerardo Bentatti and Martin Bondone — neither are visually impaired — founded Teatro Ciego. Bentatti says that darkness is a tool to strengthen our sense of imagination. When there are no defining visual aspects to categorize characters, you create them. “You can say that each person takes away a different show,” he says.

The reviewer added this:

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of sitting in total darkness for 50 minutes with random spritzes of water or bursts of wind hitting your face, this probably isn’t for you. And if you do give it a try and need to leave, don’t worry — one of the non-blind actors will help escort you out. But if you can overcome your fear of the dark, you’ll be amazed at how enlightening being present without seeing can be.

I think I would enjoy such an experience since it is so different. Not only would it be a chance to experience a play in such a unique way, but it would also offer an opportunity to gain some insight into what is like to be a blind person, even if it is for such a short time.

It also seems like it would be quite inspirational. The audience seems to have it relatively easy since they just get to sit there. But I can’t imagine what it must be like to be an actor in such a play or to be in charge of special effects, without being able to see your hand in front of your face. It all sounds quite impressive

To try and give you some sense of what this experience might be like, I thought I would write the rest of this post in the black box shown below. You are just going to have to use your imagination as to what the words might be, but trust me, it’s the best ending to a blog post you could ever read…