Friday, October 21, 2011

And that distill'd by magic sleights

Continuing with my obsessive Sleep No More blogging, vague acquaintance Deborah Castellano blogs about the show from a Neopagan perspective very different from my own: Sleep No More as theatrical Hellenistic religious initiation.

Which brings us to initiatory experience, magic and theater. Let's talk some truth talk here, to get any kind of Pagan/Occult experience to have a certain level of theatricality, you're still dealing with your regularly practicing group and you're probably in someone's living room...Neo-Paganism, like it or lump it, has more in common presently with coming from the sixties radical movements than when theater and religion used to mesh together in Greece.

The closest to that Greek theater/nitiatory experience that I've gotten is seeing Sleep No More. Firstly, you're wearing masks and you're not to speak. Secondly, each room is amazingly detailed as it took over 400 volunteers to put together the rooms. Thirdly, they separate you from whomever you came with so that you can have a solitary experience that is exactly what you want to do at all times.
And after a certain point, it's hard to tell where you've been and what you've seen and things that are similar but not exactly the same and who is observing who and the fatigue that starts to give over to the ecstatic experience as it becomes harder and harder to tell what's real and what's dreamed. The *only* way you can ever experience such a ritualistic immersive experience is this way - to pay for your ticket and for there to be a cast of nearly a thousand people who have put this together to be so detailed and choreographed and the cast of thousands of devotees who have started their own strange rituals (like leaving their own hair samples in the room full of the four hundred volunteers' samples) happening under the sanctity of the production, just like it's happened in religion since religion started.

It's an ecstatic, spiritual experience that is not like anything you'll ever be able to experience again (and even people who have gone five or seven times have different dreamlike experiences each time) so as Ferris once said, If you have the means, I highly recommend it. If it gets extended until the end of the year, I'll sell whatever organ I have to so I can go again. It's been two weeks and I'm still dreaming and thinking about it.

Again, a very different perspective from mine, but spot on. Having been a religious person myself, I agree that in me, at least, this show pushes a lot of the same brain-buttons.


  1. Really interesting perspective. And, while I'm not currently religious/spiritual myself, I'm am pretty close to dedicating my worship to Hecate, regardless of what I believe! ;)

  2. Just stumbled here :) I like how you described our connected, it made me lol! But here's a little story that may amuse you both, when I took my partner Jow for our second run he was *desperate* to follow Hecate as he had been doing morning devotions to Her for several months. He never managed to stumble onto the "blood orgy" (as we call it, I don't know what else to call it frankly) whereas I managed to stumble onto it both times I went (once with a female bald witch and once with a male bald witch) and he mournfully said he mostly was just able to follow the maid who seemed to be doing everyone.

    I had actually seen two of the witches change clothes/into a wig in a sekrit second room and I realized the first time I went that two actressed swapped roles all together when it "looped". Thinking about that and thinking about seeing Hecate the second time and the maid in question the second time I realized he had been following Hecate (in disguise as the maid) the whole time! I started laughing and told him which cheered him up but he still wished he could have seen her all sexxified.

    We want to go again but we want to let the post-GossipGirl crowd die down some and we want to go during the week when it's just the other hardcore fangirls/boys and it's less crowded as I've learned that the crowd (and the crowd's mindset) *really* affects the show.

  3. I like how you described our connected, it made me lol!

    It was a considered choice. ;)

    I'd actually found the entry a few days earlier, rolled it around in my brain, and decided it needed a reblog. It was only when looking for the name to attribute it to that I said "Deborah Castell--waittaminit."

    The ladies and I are going back (with a bit of a posse) this Friday. I assume the Gossip Girl crowd will start filling in sometime in January, since shows are already sold out until then. With any luck, not too many will buy premium-access tickets.

  4. I've never heard of premium access tickets, what does that entail?

  5. It costs more ($120, I believe, but they seem to have changed their price structure recently), and gets you access to shows that are listed as sold out on the schedule. Premium ticket holders are also served by a shorter line outside the theater, which is let in first.