visionary art, healing and sacred theatre
Temenos is the Greek word for 'sacred space'. According to the shamans all healing happens in sacred space, sometimes called the dreamtime or 'non-ordinary reality'. While we are running from the grip of time, the shaman enters timelessness and invokes the happening. Temenos theatre is a contemporary evocation of this 'happening', an exploration of sacred space and timelessness.
Temenos theatre grew out of a longing to bring to a wider audience an experience and reflection of the intuitive and spiritual healing processes which have been used by indiginous cultures worldwide throughout history, and are so marginalised in our own times and in our anti-intuitive culture.
Each performance is composed as a transformational inner journey, a form of soul retrieval, based on actual shamanic practices, some obvious and some less obvious, to give access to non-ordinary states of mind. It is not a reconstruction of any specific ritual but rather a contemporary integration of what underlies the rituals and ecstatic states into performance. It combines poetry, storytelling, music, stillness, dream states, dance and magic.
Standing between between ritual and visionary art, Temenos has evolved as an ancient-modern hybrid of performance, a many layered structure composed as provocation, meditation and catharsis. It invites the audience to explore the invisible world behind personal and social identity, and through a form of awakened trance to meet their fear of death which paradoxically can become a source of ecstasy. It is this ecstatic experience which opens up a spontaneous inner 'seeing' and 'knowing' of who we really are, of the intrinsic unity of the cosmos.
Shamanic theatre is a participatory experience more than a narrative, a space where form and content merge, where the story becomes the message and the message is the reason for telling the story. It revolves around what can be known but not told, which is indescribable precisely because it transcends the subject/object relationship upon which our language and thought-processes are based. The shaman/actor is story-teller, seer, and magician:
To comprehend the visibility of the invisible is a life's work. Holy art is an aid to this, and so we arrive at a definition of a holy theatre. A holy theatre not only presents the invisible but also offers conditions that make its perception possible.
Peter Brook 'The Empty Space'
The challenge for the actor as shaman is to make the perception of the invisible possible. In perceiving the invisible the opaqueness of the everyday mind and life-mask automatically falls away exposing whatever is left: truth, soul, emptiness, transparency, luminosity. Until it happens this is only a mental hypothesis. This 'happening' is the essence of the shamanic journey:
Visionary art is evidence of a world that does not yet fully exist; a world that we are calling into being through the very act of creating and participating in the Work. This is not an art that will support the present system of environmental exploitation, social alienation and spiritual commodification. This art is not just painting - though it is that - not just poetry, nor just music, nor just something for a target audience to consume. This art is an integration of creative manifestation and daily life; of technical craft, spiritual practice and cultural experimentation. We are returning to the tribal, shamanic roots of art, tapping into an endless potential for healing, community and transformation.
- Eve Bradford
The healing practices I learned and refined with my Indian mentor are ancient technologies that create sacred spaces where miracles can happen.
- Alberto Villoldo 'Shaman, Healer, Sage'
The actor invokes, lays bare what lies in every man - and what daily life covers up. This theatre is holy because its purpose is holy; it has a clearly defined place in the community and it responds to a need the churches can no longer fill.
- Peter Brook
Why are we concerned with art? To cross our frontiers, exceed our limitations, fill our emptiness - fulfill ourselves. This is not a condition but a process in which what is dark in us slowly becomes transparent. ...The art required is to make sounds, words, and forms, whether of base or noble provenance, open out in back, as it were, to eternity, and this requires of the artist that he should himself, in his individual experience, have touched anew that still point in this turning world.
- Jerzy Grotowski 'Towards a Poor Theatre'