Get your head in the game with Monday Nights

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Interactive theatre performance provides innovative storytelling experience 

Monday Nights was an interactive theater performance at the Kick and Push Festival.
Monday Nights was an interactive theater performance at the Kick and Push Festival.
Credit: 
Supplied by the Kick and Push Festival / Jon Nicholls

I tend to think the theatre’s a safe place, so you can understand my surprise when I heard, “This is a real, theatrical basketball experience with real, theatrical basketballs, so let’s make sure you protect your beautiful faces and be safe,” announced to the audience prior to a performance. 

“What kind of show has basketballs flying around near an audience?” I asked. 

The answer is a very good one. 

At 6th Man Collective’s show, Monday Nights, presented by the Kick and Push Festival, the audience is invited to follow not only the story of four friends who meet on the basketball courts every Monday night to play, but also to join in on their game as well. 

Entering the stage, a referee directs the audience to rifle through four separate bags on the floor, each a different colour and containing various personal items belonging to each character. We were told to rifle through the bags to find journals, books and shoes that introduced the four friends; we’d be picking teams later based on what we saw. 

Out of the four coloured options, I picked the green bag and was accordingly placed on the team of player Mickey. I liked the books he had in his bag and even though I felt like a total creep going through his journal, I liked what I read. As I watched him walk onto the stage to warm up, I sat down in his section of the court, picked up the headphones that hung on the back of my chair and listened to the playlist Mickey curated. While I was listening to his music, people who picked different teams listened to different playlists according to their choice. 

Even though we were sitting in the same theatre watching the same thing, we were experiencing totally different performances. 

As the playlist faded out, I listened to Mickey’s teammates talk about him over the headphones while the basketball players began to play. They discussed how Mickey was a great guy, yet lacked confidence and needed to work on trusting his skills – on and off the court. Mickey himself hadn’t said a single word and yet, I was completely invested in this character. 

The show became an immersive experience as we cheered on Mickey and his teammates through their basketball drills. 

In reality, Monday Nights doesn’t really have an obvious plot. Although you’re given bits and pieces of the characters’ narrative over the course of the show, your focus is on playing basketball with a cast of funny, interesting people. Your participation in the performance actually becomes part of the narrative. 

And that’s why it’s so compelling. You realize these players — who you’ve gotten to know by peeking through their belongings and playing on their team — all have hopes and dreams. They come to the courts on Monday nights to play, but they don’t leave until they sink a basket and make a wish, or until the lights turn off. And it’s the final wishes of each individual character that makes the show. 

Mickey lined up his shot. “I wish for the confidence to be my best,” he said. He missed. He lined up behind his teammates. They all made their wish and took their shot. Some went in, some didn’t – but in those moments, you’re cheering for these characters you’ve gotten to know. 

Before the show had started, the audience members were also invited to write down their individual wishes and put them in a bowl. At the end of the show, we all lined up and took a shot for each wish. We didn’t leave until each shot went in and each wish was made. 

It’s an odd, revolutionary style of theatre to create a show with that much audience interaction. It was an experience like no other, and I genuinely am going to say that it was one of the best shows I’ve ever had the honour of seeing. 

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