The incomparable ‘en route’ keeps you on your toes

Last weekend I did the most amazing thing. It involved a pre-loaded MP3 player with headphones, my fully charged cell phone and a trust in myself to face highly ambiguous situations — to “keep going down the stairs, even if it might feel wrong,” as it were.

I went down the stairs. I used the key. I opened the note marked “for later” when later presented itself. I rose my hand high in the air on a crowded city corner, much to the confusion of those around me, only to be delightfully surprised by the result of that action. I stood, observed and took pictures when instructed:

What’s this experience? Created by a Melbourne-based company called One Step at a Time Like This, En Route is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. While some might describe it as a scavenger hunt of sorts, I don’t want to give the impression that it’s a frantic competition. Rather it’s a mysterious, meditative journey that urges you to look at the familiar in an unfamiliar way.

Much like others who’ve reported on this experience, I’m being intentionally vague to keep the surprise elements intact.

The charm of the experience is that it’s completely solitary. You walk down busy streets and back alleys alone (with an omnipresent One Step at a Time Like This ensemble member watching you from just off in the distance). You’re urged to take your time and go at the pace that’s most comfortable for you.

(However, the organization of my particular experience wasn’t the best, as I kept running into two other participants throughout the process. This was a little awkward and dulled the uniqueness a bit. I also think the final moments could be more impactful.)

Aside from these few road bumps, this is one highly recommended experience. So do it.

However, the bad news: they are completely sold out for this initial run. They only take 15 participants a day, and I booked my ticket weeks ahead of time.

But, the good news: Chicago Shakespeare Theater hopes to meet the high demand by training a group of local facilitators to take over after the Melbourne group heads home. As I understand it, plans are to extend it through the summer — or perhaps longer.

Once I learn more, I’ll report here. In the meantime, last I heard, ChiShakes is taking names for a waiting list. To be added to this list, fill out the form here.

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