Lightwork: Image Performance

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a really intelligent piece of theatre... a brilliant, fizzing eveningThe Guardian


Combining Victorian illusionism and multimedia staging, Blavatsky dealt with the nature of belief and the susceptibility of seekers. It explored the moment when performance becomes deception. It bordered on the truth.

The project took as its starting point the life and practices of Madame Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, who was the first person to bring Eastern spirituality into mainstream European culture. Some see her as a pioneer of the New Age movement. The Society for Psychical Research investigated her in 1885 and declared her a fake, alleging that she used theatrical effects to achieve her visions.

The production addressed the Blavatsky phenomenon in relation to contemporary constructions of spirituality, ideologies of the self and notions of the instability of bodies and personae. It explored distinctions between substantial and insubstantial bodies, and dynamics of presence and absence, using formal procedures appropriate to particular cultural moments: the late-Victorian era (the period of Mme Blavatsky's preeminence) and the present.

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It mixes videos and actors and conjurors. Daringly, it projects the gullibility and scepticism which greeted Blavatsky ... and then thrusts a mind-reader into the audience to test its prejudices. Cleverly it conjures up vivid historical scenes ... It is a scene, though not a play, from the new face of British drama.Susannah Clapp, The Observer

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