Details

Theatre magick: Aleister Crowley and the Rites of eleusis

by Tupman, Tracy Ward

Abstract (Summary)
In October and November of 1910 seven one-act plays were produced at Caxton Hall, Westminster, London, under the collective title The Rites of Eleusis. These public productions were as much an experiment in audience and performer psychology as they were an exotic entertainment. Written, produced and directed by leading cast member, Aleister Crowley, The Rites of Eleusis attempted to present a contemporary interpretation of an ancient myth in order to reignite the role and importance of mysticism in modern society. Through exposing the audience to a variety of sensory stimuli such as incense, rhythmic music, dance, and poetry, it attempted to create within the audience itself an altered state of consciousness which would make them co-celebrants within the performance/ritual. As Crowley stated in the original broadsheet advertisements for the productions, the Rites were intended “to illustrate the magical methods followed by a mystical society which seeks for illumination by ecstasy.” But Crowley intended much more: he hoped the audience would not merely view an “illustration,” but experience an actual state of “ecstasy.” for “self-development” not only to the performers onstage, but also to the spectators. This experiment to recreate not only the “performer-priests” of antiquity but to include the audience as a part of the production foreshadowed the later work of theatre anthropologists and theorists such as Richard Schechner, and serves to illustrate one of the first attempts in the twentieth century to consciously create a psychological connection between theatrical and religious practice within the western hegemonic society. A close reading of the first Rite demonstrates that there are specific occult motivations for every artistic decision reflected in the actual productions. Thus, the position in which performers are discovered at the opening of a rite is not merely an aesthetic choice, but is also reflective of specific criteria established by qabalistic, astrological, or other occult requirements. The costumes and properties used within the Rites are also dictated by deeper symbolism. The appearance of performativity in a religious or worshipful context is repetitive throughout history, and time after time it is spirituality that gives birth to the drama, rather than spirituality evolving from a performative context
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:The Ohio State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:aleister crowley magick eleusis

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2003

© 2009 OpenThesis.org. All Rights Reserved.