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Calling Class


Credits:
Concept/Direction: Max Schumacher
Performer: Robert Wolfram
Design: Hiroko Tanahashi
Production: post theater [new york / berlin / tokyo]


History:

Telephone version:
Feb. 2006: HoerZu Festival, Junges Theater Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Seminar version:
Feb. 2006100 Grad Berlin Festival, Hebbel-am-Ufer, Berlin, Germany






A telephone-performance:
Murat Belcant teaches gCall-Center Competence | Ways to successful phoning
A seminar for communicative people.h

In many countries, phone-marketing is one of the few growing industries. In some places, like Berlin for example, itfs the only one. Call centers provide communication services, a work that is a typical post-industrial employment field. Some of these services are globably dispersed | like the American Express phone operators in India, some are kept local. But also outside of the call center world, most people find themselves working more over the phone.
Calling Class is a theater performance that stages a seminar on phone communication skills. The actor Robert Wolfram plays the call center coach Murat Belcant. In a very interactive style, the seminar becomes frighteningly real.
The audience to the piece is approached with texts on postcards, web-sites, program notes.

The hybrid performance-seminar exists in two formats:


Version I | g 1:1 Sessionh from a booth or stela

In short 1:1 sessions a single participant calls Robert / Murat on a number indicated on a specially decorated stela. This piece of furniture is located ideally in the lobby of a theater, or a cafe | any public space where people hang out. A poster on that object or explains the audience what to expect when they make the call from a phone attached to that pillar or booth.
There are many layers to this spatial intervention: The participant becomes a performer to others. The object ideally also works as a sculpture, even when not used by anyone.
As a performance, this is highly attractive to every festival, since the performer does not even need to be physically present at the venue. The length of each conversation depends on the situation in the lobby. It is advisable to have gice-breakersh in the lobby who first make calls, visibly to others.


Version II | g1:12 Sesseionhh in a seminar room

Either on a big poster or clearly stated on post cards or program notes, the audience learns about Calling Class. They have to reserve by phone for their time slot. They also learn where to meet their coach Murat. It is Murat answering these reservation calls and already taking notes about the callerfs phone behavior. After meeting at the appointed spot, Murat verifies the participantsf presence and leads them to a seminar room.
The class takes place in a simply furnished, neutral seminar room. There are name cards with the participantfs names already placed on a long table. There are copies of educational material and pencils provided.
Only up to 12 participants gathers to hands-on-exercises and hear a lecture by Murat. He moderates exercises between participants and demonstrates phone behavior. All things taught are absolutely accurate. The audience is confused to what degree this is all fiction or fact, and if they are in a theater piece and why they end up performing for the group.The length of a session can be adjusted to various factors, but should not be less than 30 minutes and not more than 1 hour. There can be up to three sessions per evening.


Combinations / Variations
Version I and II can of course be combined within one festival / gig. The conversations of version I can be recorded or / and aired at another place. Also the seminar version II can be recorded on video and presented elsewhere. It is also possible to allow audiences into the office where Murat coaches on phone and amplify the conversation.


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