This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



The Encounter

You can now experience Simon McBurney’s extraordinary, immersive The Encounter online

Who: Simon McBurney, Takumã Kuikuro, others
What: Virtual presentation of The Encounter
Where: St. Ann’s Warehouse website
When: May 15-22, free (donations accepted); live Zoom Q&A May 20 at 2:30, free with advance RSVP
Why: In the fall of 2016, Simon McBurney’s extraordinary play The Encounter, about photojournalist Loren McIntyre’s adventures in the Amazon, opened at the Golden Theatre. The mostly one-man show required every audience member to wear headphones; in my review, I wrote, “The play is also very much about contact, from McIntyre meeting the Mayoruna to how each audience member experiences it individually, a solitary yet communal experience.” With theaters closed and people sheltering in place, the idea of “contact” has changed. With that in mind, from May 15 at 2:00 through May 22 at 5:00, St. Ann’s Warehouse and McBurney’s terrific company, the London-based Complicité, are streaming for free a recorded version of the full play (with a new introduction by McBurney), taking you places you’ve never been in numerous ways; you will need your headphones to immerse yourself in the full effect of the 3D sound design. “We are, as a consequence of this pandemic, bodily cut off from one another. Disconnected. Isolated,” McBurney said in a statement. “But perhaps this sense of our separation, one from another, is simply a heightening of what we felt before this all began. We are thinking now, not only about how long this will last, but also what happens on the other side. To reconnect we need, perhaps, to learn to listen more closely. To each other. To our communities. To other cultures. To nature itself. The Encounter is at its heart a story about listening, not hearing but listening — to other, older narratives which, at the deepest level, form who we are, and if we do, we can imagine how we can begin again.”

On May 20 at 2:30, McBurney, an ingenious writer, director, and actor who has appeared in such films as The Golden Compass, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Mission Impossible — Rogue Nation and has brilliantly adapted such other literary works as Haruki Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes, Bruno Schulz’s The Street of Crocodiles, and John Berger’s To the Wedding, will participate in a live Zoom Q&A with Brazilian filmmaker Takumã Kuikuro and special guests; the discussion is free but advance RSVP is required here. I cannot recommend this presentation — a benefit for St. Ann’s — highly enough.

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