Interactive basketball theatre performance takes to the courts in Toronto
While waiting to enter the makeshift basketball court at The Theatre Centre to see Monday Nights – an “interactive immersive bromance” show by 6th Man Collective – we see a sign, some pieces of paper, and pencils.
“Write your wish, and place it in the basketball,” the sign tells us. So I, my companion, and mostly everyone else in the room does just that. As I’m revelling in the novelty, sneaking a second wish into the split open basketball and reading the court rules posted on the door, a whistle blows. A referee is now commanding our attention. I’m already excited – and it only gets better.
We’re told to go inside, look through four different gym bags, and choose a team – whichever resonates with us. I choose purple, and my companion follows.
We sit down in our section, and, as instructed, place the headphones provided on our ears. After a brief musical interlude, we hear instructions. We’re informed that the story our team hears will be different from the other three teams. I’m skeptical until the stories begin, and I notice the other teams laughing at different moments.
As we listen, learning more about our team leader, the four players – all very skilled at basketball – shoot, dodge, defend, joke, laugh, and slap each other in that affectionate way bros do. This is totally four buddies getting together on a court to shoot some hoops. This portion is mostly a performance – a humorous, lively, entertaining one. We’re then told to remove our headphones.
What follows is an exciting, energetic, and immersive theatre experience that had virtually everyone in the crowd cheering, clapping, shouting, and jumping. Balls were thrown! Points were scored! Sportsmanship and competitiveness danced perfectly together! We played! We high-fived! The show’s description told me to expect all of this, but I never anticipated jumping up out of my seat, shooting hoops, and cheering.
I think it’s important to note here that participation is totally optional. That said, the energy in the space made it impossible for me – with a broken finger in a splint, plus a knee injury – to just sit back and watch. Even my companion Carhyn, who’s generally very shy and not the biggest fan of interactive theatre, got up, raised her hand to volunteer, and cheered enthusiastically.
We both agreed: this magical way they brought us out of our shells with such ease was the highlight for us (with the sound, lighting, timing, staging, and writing being others).
There were only a two very slight negatives, and I hesitate to even call them that. A few times, the crowd was so loud, and it was hard to hear what was being said; and getting on the ground to dig through gym bags might not suit everyone.
Another point, which I think is brilliant, but which left me wanting just slightly, is that you only get to hear one fourth of the players’ stories. Unless, of course, you go back and see the show again – something I’m seriously considering doing this week. (Carhyn and I wished afterwards that we’d chosen separate teams)
As for the wishes… Carhyn and I both agreed that we weren’t exactly sure how they tied in with the performance, but we absolutely loved that they were included. My wish is you’ll go and see the show, so I’m keeping those details to myself.
If you love interactive theatre, basketball, laughing, and just feeling good and positive all over, go see Monday Nights. It was one of the most unique and entertaining experiences of my life. Oh, and purple won!
- Monday Nights is playing until July 26 at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen St. W.)
- Shows run Wednesday to Saturday at 8pm, with an additional Fundraiser event on Thursday, and PWYC matinee on Sunday at 2pm
- Ticket prices range from $22 – $25, and are available online, or through the box office at 416-538-0988
- Limited seating available
- Comfortable footwear suggested for optional audience participation
- Runtime is approximately 2 hours (with the option to stay longer), with no intermission
Photo of Byron Abalos, Colin Doyle, Richard Lee and Darrel Gamotin by Photo by Dahlia Katz