My Detroit Free Press preview of Complicite’s ‘The Encounter,’ presented by UMS

Complicite Encounter 3 by Robbie Jack.jpg

Simon McBurney, artistic director of London’s renowned theater troupe Complicite, stars in “THe Encounter,” which plays for three performances in Ann Arbor. (Photo by Robbie Jack)

Michael Kondziolka, programming director for University Musical Society, did some strategic eavesdropping in New York last fall when renowned, London-based theater troupe Complicite’s newest show, “The Encounter,” was in the midst of an American premiere run on Broadway.

“I ended up at a hotel on the same block as the theater where ‘The Encounter’ was playing, and, of course, I couldn’t help myself,” says Kondziolka, who had already scheduled the show for the 2016-17 UMS season. “I couldn’t help but go stand on the sidewalk and listen to audiences as they left the theater. … And the absolute intensity of the conversations that I heard going on was really exciting — the sense of magic, the sense of participation … in what they’d just experienced.”

Indeed, “The Encounter,” playing for three performances this weekend at the Ann Arbor’s Power Center, offers a unique theater experience. Audience members wear headphones throughout the performance to feel sensorially immersed through binaural sound (wherein each ear hears its own soundtrack, achieving a kind of “3D-listening” effect). Complicite cofounder and artistic director Simon McBurney is the show’s primary onstage narrator. He uses objects like water bottles and plastic bags to achieve atmospheric sound effects to tell the story of  National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre, who, in 1969, got lost deep in the Amazon rain forest and encountered the indigenous Mayoruna tribe. READ THE REST HERE


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