December 9, 2005

House of Wishes

By Luis Alonso Pérez

For many people watching a theatre play is an experience without equal, watching the actors, their movements, their wardrobe and the stage can transport the spectator into other worlds. However, the visual richness of theatre can transform into the main impediment for blind or visually weak people to enjoy the complete show.

That is why “La casa de los deseos” (House of wishes) was created, the first theatre play designed especially so that blind audience can enjoy a show through hearing, touching, smelling and even tasting. The play was presented last month in Centro Cultural Tijuana.

La Casa de los Deseos tells the story of a circus that was inherited by the owner’s son after it’s glorious days where long gone, so he was forced to assume the character of the strong man known as “Super Macho” even though he wanted to lead another kind of life. Along his side was “Campanita” a small presenter who was deeply in love with Super Macho but wasn’t loved back; “Carca-jadas” an alcoholic clown that didn’t make anyone laugh and “Edipo” a young orphan trapeze artiste who was raised by Carcajadas.

But not only blind people can attend the play, because those who are able to see enjoy the show with their eyes blindfolded. The idea is to raise awareness among those who can see, so they can feel what blind people have to face every day when they work, transport, go to school, etc.

“Step right up to the circus: The house of wishes” says Super Macho to the incoming audience who walk cautiously with their eyes folded, walking in a line guided by the one in front of them. Circus music in the background, the delicious smell of popcorn in the air and wooden shavings on the floor.

“Don’t think about your blindfold, you are blind now” said Super Macho, as part of a brief introduction, “This is the opportunity of walking in a blind person’s shoes.”

The story recount what happens before a circus show. During the play, the audience can participate in many ways, like pulling on the rope to lift up the tent, or stimulating their senses by eating cotton candy, feeling the air in their faces or listening to the dialogues.

This play was developed by the Carlos Ancira independent theatre company, and directed by Pablo Moreno. It is the result of an investigation made with ophthalmologists, psychologists and blind people, to develop a script that makes the audience feel inside of the show and to narrate a story by stimulating all of the senses except sight.

Even though there are plays where the scenery and actions are described by audio devices, this play tries not to resort to descriptions, so that everyone in the audience can have a unique mental picture of the story.

The theatre company is currently working on a play for blind children, with different duration and characteristics, so it can be enjoyed by visually handicapped young ones.

La Casa de los Deseos has received many awards and has performed over a thousand times in México and abroad. Last year they visited Washington, DC, for the Very Special Arts Internacional Festival. They have also been to Tel Aviv, Israel and the 100% Art Festival in Medellín, Colombia. But you can always watch a presentation every Saturday in their hometown Puebla.

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