(For the second installment of this series please see: Entering the Theatre of Manifestation – The Art of Possession)
It’s a fool’s quest to go seeking strange angels and emergent archetypes in the muddled minds of the contemporary world. What more to seek to manifest them, confront them, engage with them in the hopes of giving some sense of trans-spiritual renewal to the blighted urbanism and abandoned traditions of today. So it is that the FoolishPeople step forward to take a task that few would be willing to see through, they have sought entry into the Theatre of Manifestation, and the gifts that they return with are pregnant with the possibilities of art and magic.
It is my pleasure to announce an ongoing project documenting these FoolishPeople and their living legacy, to share their tale of travel from avant-garde theatre, if one must fall into transient terminology, to manifesting Strange Factories, a cinematic spell that takes their tradition of magic and ritual into the digital age. With Theatre of Manifestation Unveiled we are invited to join them on a jocund journey, a rare opportunity for exploring a contemporary artistic tradition that remains well tried in the mysteries.
The artists life, the life of the writer, and creative, is already filled with financial woes and the eventual alienation that attends any who begin to fracture the thin wall between reality and imagination. Adding magic to the mix, and worse a social conscience, you have a recipe for liminal disaster. Yet, it is in this chaotic matrix where those who seek illumination must go, and what seeker is more earnest than one who has no other choice but to go on. Called to the precipice of the abyss, some learn to dance on the edge.
The FoolishPeople are not a group brought together by common interests, although they share a few, nor are they gathered on some artificial insinuation of talent, although each of them is more than capable in what they do, they are brought together by a force which none of us can speak of, it is nameless, and yet we see it’s effect manifesting within our lives. Each member of the core group within Foolish People speaks of finding a place in the circle where they have discovered access to mysteries and truths that have haunted them while awake and dreaming. Each member speaks of discovering in the freedom of this ritual theatre a doorway and vehicle to a wider sense of conscious life. What is more, in speaking with them, and in speaking to those who have taken up the offer to enter their world, I’ve found that these discoveries are not without fruit, and efficacy is ever the test of practical magic.
Shall we begin with an anecdote? A rumor caught in conversation? Foolish People’s immersive theatre is more than just a night out, it is ritual, and like all rituals, when the set and setting are properly prepared, something Other comes through. What comes of this we’ll discover at a later date in our unveiling, but don’t worry if you are skeptical. This is theatre after all, you needn’t do more than enjoy the show, what sneaks in after the curtain closes is yours to take for whatever reality you’d like.
I can speak personally on FoolishPeople’s emergence as an active agent, in some ways the same forces which foster their creative fire have been at play in my own experiments in art and culture. John Harrigan, founder of FoolishPeople, and I became acquainted through the strange networked interstices of those whose interests lie in a more esoteric application of contemporary cultural technology.
I have spent many years investigating the curious crossroads of culture and myth. My pilgrim’s path leading to a set of unique credentials in folk magic and ritual, psychical research, esoteric philosophy, cognitive science, and cultural studies. It’s an odd arrangement of expertise, yet as a sagacious shepherd reflects in the Second Shepherd’s play of the Wakefield cycle:
We that walk in the nights, our cattle to keep,
We see sudden sights, when other men sleep.
John’s work with FoolishPeople, and the work of all those who participate in the experience, speaks for itself, and my own experiments have lead me to a place where I am able to bring you with on a guided tour of the twilight world where light and shadow play out the lives of gods in the experience of human flesh.
So please, accept this invitation, come with us in our exploration of this theatre of manifestation, you will find we weave through the web, a digital immersion that carries on the immersive ritual theatre which has become the hallmark of FoolishPeople’s production. This is a story we are creating, and like all stories it exists wherever there is word and will to carry it.
Although I must warn you, not everyone can survive the violence of creation.
Note: Many thanks to John for inviting me to participate in this project, and to Lucy Harrigan, Tereza Kamenicka, and Craig Slee for wonderful conversations in preparation for this journey.
FoolishPeople create Weaponised Art, Ritual Theatre and Film.
Over a number of years, FoolishPeople has developed a unique practice, Theatre of Manifestation. This is a form of ritual theatre that combines mythology, shamanism, drama therapy, strategic forecasting and open source collaboration. We create stories by merging film, performance, sound, art, light and the location to create a unique, dreamlike world that living characters inhabit.
Our audience must choose their own journey without guidance, a technique which challenges their habitual way of watching art and entertainment in a conventional manner. Static consumption is not possible, active engagement and participation is vital and absolutely necessary.
David Metcalfe is an independent researcher, writer and multimedia artist focusing on the interstices of art, culture, and consciousness. He is a contributing editor for Reality Sandwich, The Revealer, the online journal of NYU’s Center for Religion and Media, and The Daily Grail. He writes regularly for Evolutionary Landscapes, Alarm Magazine, Modern Mythology, Disinfo.com, The Teeming Brain and his own blog The Eyeless Owl. His writing has been featured in The Immanence of Myth (Weaponized 2011), Chromatic: The Crossroads of Color & Music (Alarm Press, 2011) and Exploring the Edge Realms of Consciousness (North Atlantic/Evolver Editions 2012). Metcalfe is an Associate with Phoenix Rising Digital Academy, and is currently co-hosting The Art of Transformations study group with support from the International Alchemy Guild.