March 20th, 2006

AC Pensive

"The Ship" sails! :D



Given my ritual duties later today (Horus & Vernal Equinox, natch) I should probably be catching some rare nighttime shut-eye...but given that senryu has a very early shoot today, and that I'm not sure what posting time I'll have in the next week or so, howzabout a quick -- and mostly spoiler-free -- stage review?

LVX Oasis O.T.O., in cooperation with 93 Oasis (and with generous support from Caravan Noir) presents Aleister Crowley's mystery play "The Ship"; The Actor's Playpen, 7pm 19 March 2006 EV. This is the public preview of the upcoming initiates & guests performance in honor of the Tenth Anniversary of U.S. Grand Lodge; details here:

Since I'm uncertain who'd want either their civil, or LJ, names used in this review I'll err on the side of caution and omit same; anybody who wants to be credited here, please chime in with comments!

Edward Alexander "Aleister" Crowley was a prolific playwright, especially before and during his original Equinox period (1909-1913 EV); not surprisingly, given his focus in that time, most of his initiatory Equinox plays have a decided A.'.A.'. slant. This makes "The Ship" even more unusual than it would otherwise be: it's a rare attempt to combine A.'.A.'. and O.T.O. insights in a single symbolic work. The O.T.O. emphasis is obvious -- Crowley dedicated the work to Theodor Reuss, and Gnostic Mass (and Masonic) elements predominate -- and appropriately enough, given its intention to honor both the vernal equinox and the tenth anniversary of U.S. Grand Lodge, O.T.O., that is the decided flavor of this production: it is, as it should be, celebratory. The play itself, as written, is rather less so: it balances tenuously between the appreciation of vernal rebirth, and the sorts of inner order insights one sees in, say, the Fourteenth and Thirteenth Aethyrs of The Vision and the Voice. This too is unsurprising: Crowley published it, after all, as his inheritance was nearing its end, the future of Thelema was clearly moving -- if anywhere! -- from A.'.A.'. to O.T.O., and he could be forgiven for thinking that the work he had spent everything to do up to that time, particularly in the previous five years, had largely been for naught. Some sticklers might, then, quibble that this production makes choices -- especially a key choice in its denouement -- which rather alter his 1913 intentions. I have to disagree, not least because in watching it I caught yet another "reading" of the (multifaceted) original play: at the last, it is also about the endless recurrence of initiation itself over the centuries. Only keep the ship of Nu afloat, by whatever means...and inevitably, "very God of very God" shall re-emerge.

The production itself is top-flight of its kind -- particularly considering that "The Ship" was written as closet drama, and calls for both staging and special effects beyond the reach of most professional troupes. Its numerous technical challenges are ingeniously met: dung-beetles emerging from pools, ruffians fleeing across a wasteland, and other sheer impossibilities in a "black box" venue are effortlessly and satisfyingly resolved; and special mention must be made of the music: a new score, and very fine performances by the "Ararita Chorus," play perhaps the biggest single role in the production's success.

The casting is nothing short of delightful. Inspiring priestess and virgin; very strong high priest of the Sun; particularly impressive warders, and the wonderful ruffians themselves. And finally -- yes, I'm prejudiced -- but Nu, "a seafaring man," provides the very note from the original some might otherwise find lacking: wonder, awe, and most especially mourning, are quite hauntingly present. Hear, hear!

In short, if they still have tickets available, go see the thing, darn it. If we weren't going to be away next weekend, we'd surely go again. :)

Kudos and thanks to LVX and 93 Oases! Felicitations and Many Happy Returns to U.S.G.L. on its Decennial! Happy Anno CII to all and sundry! (And blessing & worship to ol' what's'isname, too. ;) )

93 93/93 -- AJ