Imagine watching a performance for the first time and knowing nothing about the play. This is not an uncommon scenario, but there’s a catch –– the performer doesn’t know the plot either.
The latest play making its way to Cal Poly, “Nassim,” is just that: a show that binds the audience and actor by bringing them both along for the ride.
“The audience is on the same boat with us,” Nassim Soleimanpour said. “It’s this hive mind, including all of us together in this room, figuring it out together, not as a puzzle, but as a journey.”
Soleimanpour is a playwright who will perform his “theatrical game” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 14 in the Spanos Theater.
His cold-read performance – which is performing a scene with little to no preparation – is based on a few central themes: friendship, language, immigration, making friends and the unconditional love of a mother. According to the PAC’s website, “’Nassim’ is a striking theatrical demonstration of how language can both divide and unite us.”
Soleimanpour is a playwright based in Berlin, Germany. It is there that he manages his production company, Nassim Soleimanpour Productions. Soleimanpour is not unfamiliar with the concept of a cold-read. His show “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit,” is a cold read that has been performed over four thousand times in 40 different language adaptations.
Soleimanpour has carefully crafted this concept throughout his years as a playwright.
“It’s always a new performer per show. There’s no gender, age or ethnicity. It can be basically anyone as long as you can read,” Soleimanpour said. “However, if you perform the show once you’re not allowed to come and do it again.”
“Nassim” is no different and will be cast by local producers selecting the “lucky performer” before the show. Soleimanpour is in no way involved during the process.
“I go in completely blind. But that is the beauty of it, you know?” Soleimanpour said. “Then later, we chat, we eat, we talk. Sometimes we stay in touch for years with these actors.”
Soleimanpour said that cold-reading can help people look into themselves in a way a normal performance can’t.
“I think with a cold read there is something which is built into the structure,” Soleimanpour said. “While beautiful, it’s good that we are really feeling, you know?”
With thousands of performances and translations into different languages, Soleimanpour has found a distinct characteristic in his “audience-members turned performers” that he feels makes a most enthralling performance.
”If you are scared and you want to hide it, it’s okay. We do it in everyday life,” Soleiampour said. “So someone who is brave enough to be beautifully vulnerable, whether they are a politician or a seasoned actor, younger or older, I think that is very beautiful.”
Tickets can be purchased at calpolyarts.org. Cal Poly’s students are eligible for a 20% off discount with proof of ID.