Downtown Windsor to host groundbreaking street theater performance

The CONTACT performances – an app-based theatrical show without theater – take place on the streets of downtown Windsor from August 19 to September 19.

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There’s going to be drama in downtown Windsor, but it won’t be on any stage.


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Starting this month, the streets of downtown will host CONTACT: a groundbreaking app-based performance that takes actors out of the theater and into the cityscape.

Members of the public will gather at a designated public location and download the CONTACT app to their smartphones.

At a scheduled time, the app will play pre-recorded audio as live performers attend and play the dialogue.

The play involves the performers walking around and changing locations, so audience members will have to follow them to follow the story.

Director Charles Roy said CONTACT performances were first developed last year in Paris and have since taken place in Toronto and Ottawa.


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Actors Nadeem Phillip (left) and Meaghen Quinn (right) perform a CONTACT performance in downtown Windsor on August 11, 2021.
Actors Nadeem Phillip (left) and Meaghan Quinn (right) perform a CONTACT performance in downtown Windsor on August 11, 2021. Photo by Dalson Chen /Windsor Star

Windsor will be just the third North American city to host CONTACT shows.

“There’s a whole second dimension to the show: watching the reactions of passers-by,” Roy said at a launch event on Wednesday.

“When you have the app and you’re listening on your headphones, you can be totally immersed in the gaming world. If you don’t have the app, you won’t have a clue what’s going on.

Of course, the nature of CONTACT can make it more unpredictable than conventional theatrical events.

A “manager” and volunteers will oversee each show, dealing with any intrusive elements or production issues.

Headphones and “dongle” adapters will be provided for spectators who failed to bring their own (adapters must be returned).


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For those who don’t own or can’t afford mobile devices, Roy said he has a few loaner devices that can be used by audience members for the duration of a show.

“We’ll make sure everyone, regardless of economic status, regardless of gear, can enjoy the show,” Roy said.

Meaghen Quinn (left) and Nadeem Phillip (right) perform in a CONTACT performance in downtown Windsor on August 11, 2021.
Meaghen Quinn (left) and Nadeem Phillip (right) perform in a CONTACT performance in downtown Windsor on August 11, 2021. Photo by Dalson Chen /Windsor Star

COVID-19 prevention measures are encouraged for all participants.

Another unpredictable factor is the weather. In case of rain, the show will go on: Roy said he had a stock of umbrellas ready for audience members.

“I prefer to watch the show when it’s raining,” Roy said. “The atmospheres of the show lend themselves to this kind of weather. The rain kind of fuels the emotions of the piece.

As difficult as CONTACT can be for audiences and show organizers, it presents its own set of challenges for comedians.


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Meaghen Quinn in a CONTACT performance in downtown Windsor on August 11, 2021.
Meaghen Quinn in a CONTACT performance in downtown Windsor on August 11, 2021. Photo by Dalson Chen /Windsor Star

Meaghen Quinn, who plays Sarah, noted that being locked into pre-recorded sound limits her in one way, but frees her in another.

“It was a bit overwhelming when I first learned it, because you have to match every word,” said Quinn, who teaches at the University of Windsor’s School of Drama.

“But on the other hand, I was interested in exploring how I could use my body to complete the story. The good thing is that we can improvise with movement, as long as we hit certain landmarks and places.

Although putting the performances on the street adds an element of realism to the show, there is still an obvious artifice with CONTACT. In order to hear the audio cues themselves, performers must wear headphones or earbuds throughout the performance.


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Nadeem Phillip, a Toronto actor who plays the role of Rafael, said he hopes local viewers will be willing to suspend their disbelief, get into the narrative and be absorbed by the interaction between the two characters.

“This is a whole new form of theater, born out of the pandemic era,” Phillip said. “The hope is that at some point in the experience, you’ll get lost. You’ll forget the headphones and you’ll be in it with us.

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The show is presented by the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association and the University of Windsor.

DWBIA President Brian Yeomans said he thought Windsor was ready for CONTACT performances.

“Windsor is a theatrical community,” Yeomans said. “You know we have 21 different theater companies in this city? I am a theater lover. When I saw the show’s pitch, I was immediately intrigued.

CONTACT shows take place from August 19 to September 19.

Tickets are $39.99 each. Visit for online purchase and more information.


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