Binaural Dinner Date is a very different dating experience coming to Theatre Royal Stratford East from 16th Nov to 3rd Dec. For nine pairs at a time – either curious couples or singles who want to be hooked up – the performance project sits people at a dining table in Gerry’s Kitchen with a cocktail, and through binaural headphones they’re given thoughts, questions and cues to guide them through a very unusual date. The show is designed to help people get to know each other, and also to help people think about whether they’re using the same old script. We spoke to Persis Jadé Maravala to find out more.
Binaural Dinner Date is coming to Gerry’s Kitchen, what can you tell us about it?
You come on a date with someone you already know or come alone and get set up with someone. BDD is a beautiful little experience about the absurdities of dating alongside the wonderfully optimistic act of faith it represents. It is playful and touching and has at its heart a real genuine enquiry into who we are, who we say we are and why we say we are who we are (when we are actually not).
The binaural bit is what makes it extra special.
How have you made it more like theatre, and less like speed dating?
Not sure it is that much unlike speed dating(!). We love the concept of speed dating but our work focuses on connections between strangers, building temporary communities out of audiences and essentially asking ourselves to turn the gaze inwards. BDD has many different modes in which the highs of a date can be experienced without so many of the lows and there is a performative seam running through the whole piece that anchors the experience to meaning.
Where did the inspiration for Binaural Dinner Date come from?
There was no inspiration that appeared as a bolt of lightning. It was the result of lots of hard work and long hours in process where we knew a few things that we wanted to do. One was to mediate the space between strangers, the second was to experiment with live performance, binaural audio and games and the other was to investigate what the social ritual of dating said about us as a species.
Diners get instructions throughout the date, how were they written/decided upon?
I wrote them with my collaborator Will Dickie. We decided on them by arm wrestling mostly. They are the result of a lot of going back and forth and testing them on people and rewriting and tweaking and re-tweaking and throwing them away and then desperately looking for them again in the bin.
Tell us a little about the setting?
Gerrys kitchen is a fantastic bar and restaurant run as part of the amazing Theatre Royal Stratford East. Gerry’s is named after Gerry Raffles who was a moving force in the establishing of the Theatre Workshop with Joan Littlewood. We are determined to take our work out of the theatre and into public spaces and this establishment is perfectly situated halfway between restaurant and arts space.
This is the first instalment of Decalogy of Loneliness, tell us about that?
The Decalogy is ZU’s next epic piece – a 10-part piece. Over the next 2-3 years, we will fuse together the ten works we are working on into a monster piece that audiences experience over a whole day over several locations city wide. The Decalogy of Loneliness, provisionally titled Running Through The World Like An Open Razor, is a deep investigation into what it means to be a man today, and how the pressures of being a man impact on sanity and madness
Binaural Dinner Date is at Gerry’s Kitchen (Theatre Royal Stratford East) from 16th November to 3rd December