A Cinematic Presentation of Ecstatic Evidences on the Camino
In September 2015, Theatre Y launched a traveling play and over the last 18 months it has brought our mission to life in the streets, cafes, homes, and libraries throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods. I directed this one person play, An Impressive Presentation of Lovely Evidences: Underneath The Lintel, which was written by Glen Berger, and featuresDarren Hill as the possessed librarian who wanders through the world gathering scraps from which he tries to find coherence and meaning.
While witnessing the powerful effect Darren’s performance was having on Chicago audiences, and continually hunting for new, receptive audiences, we learned about the Camino De Santiago in Spain and heard some of the experiences of the 250,000 international pilgrims who walk it each year. It struck us that this might be a perfect environment for continued performance and wider exploration. It also struck us that 10 years into Theatre Y, we could use a really long think. This basic human ritual was perhaps the start of something deep and new.
For nearly one thousand years pilgrims have walked approximately 15 miles per day for 33 days across northern Spain ending in the City of Santiago Compostela. It has been said ”that in the busyness of our secular lives, it opens a space that allows for a profound personal transformation….within the crucible that is pilgrimage a remarkable alchemical reaction takes place that burns away the dross we have collected in our lives—so that, over time, only the purest gold remains.”
During July and August 2017, actor Darren Hill completed a pilgrimage on the Camino De Santiago over a 6 week period, performing the play in the plazas and restaurants of the towns where Darren lodged at night, with an audience comprised primarily of fellow pilgrims. Documentary film maker, Greg Scott, a visual sociologist, artist, and filmmaker at DePaul University, joined the project and documented the entire project. The films he makes “tend to explore the ineffable and ethereal dimensions of human interaction in a context of multilevel myth-making”. Mr. Scott and his team joined writer Evan Hill, choreographer Katie Stimpson, director Melissa Lorraine, and a large group of friends, volunteers and strangers to achieve the following:
1) the presentation of Theatre Y’s lauded Impressive Presentation of Lovely Evidences: Underneath the Lintel on the Camino during July and August 2017 - Part existential detective story / part travelog / part character study of a somewhat mad librarian who becomes possessed by a quest for existential meaning - voted among the Top Ten Plays of the Year by Time Out New York magazine.
2) a documentary film version of the performances of An Impressive Presentation of Lovely Evidences: Underneath the Lintel on the Camino - Mr. Scott will document the play’s live performances, develop an immersive documentary film that captures the play’s performance across the 33-day, 450 mile stretch.
This is a taste of the kind of work Greg Scott and his team will be doing with An Impressive Presentation of Lovely Evidences: Underneath the Lintel on the Camino.
3) an immersive ethnographic film about ordinary peoples’ experiences walking the Camino for sacred and secular reasons - Mr. Scott will create an original work of experimental docu-narrative cinema that explores the rituals, ceremonies, practices, and ecstatic transformations that occur amongst the people we encounter along the way and with whom we travel and otherwise interact in the context of the pilgrimage and/or performances.
O When the Dog Barks — participatory bluegrass rap performance film that Greg shot in Montgomery, IN. Part of a video installation at Cranbrook Museum
4) an experimental cinematic documentary about the relationship between human consciousness and the experience—internal and external—of spiritual ecstasy.
5) Theatre Y’s creation of a new piece of theatrical art based on the Camino. The films and new theatrical work will all be distributed widely in Chicago and the broader United States. The new theatrical piece will be inspired by and devised during the walk on the Camino de Santiago. This performance piece will be an investigation into the meaning of pilgrimage for the secularized consciousness. We hope to promote a conversation between materialist worldviews and sacred places/practices by integrating different ‘field recordings’ curated throughout our journey. These ‘field recordings’ will take the following forms:
- site-specific rituals created at various locale (including Galicia),
- letters written between a husband (atheist) and wife (believer-in-crisis) recounting their conflicting spiritual voyages on the Camino,
- tape recorded confessions of other pilgrims
- original songs and poetry
- film footage of objects and monuments from the path
We hope, by means of these various ‘recordings’, to create a performance environment that bears the spirit of the Camino de Santiago. The piece will draw, in part, upon the recordings completed by Mr. Scott. The goal is not to reproduce the Camino in a strictly documentary fashion, but to interiorize it as an event and reflect it in a mosaic of physical and textual expressions. The final theatrical form will be a multimedia, choral dance and poetry piece.
The mission of Theatre Y is to create poetic and physical theatre, mine the contradictions of the human experience, and challenge audiences to find universal shared meaning. The central objective of this project, with its three interrelated films (performance documentary, ethnographic documentary, and experimental cinema), is to examine the rituals and practices associated with the ecstatic transformation of self in the communal context of a spiritual (secular or sacred) pilgrimage.
Theatre Y is committed to building international partnerships that foster better thoughts and new ways of creating art together. We are recruiting more volunteers from Spain and the Chicago area to walk the Camino, support the team of artists, and participate in the process of creating a new work of theatre and cinematic documentation. Their experiences and insights will be the material of the films and infuse the new work of theatre, which will be the first fully devised Theatre Y production, developed over these two years, to be shared in 2019 with Chicagoans, and hopefully, international audiences in Spain and beyond.
For more information about this project email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org