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Shamanic Theatre as Soul Retrieval

In perceiving the invisible
the opaqueness of the everyday mind and
life-mask falls away exposing whatever is left: truth, soul, emptiness, transparency, luminosity.
This is the essence of soul retrieval.
The shaman journeys though the gap 
between the worlds to retrieve the soul which is lost in daily life and out of his vision creates a new alignment of visible and invisible worlds.

A holy theatre not only presents the invisible

but also offers conditions that make its perception

possible.  -  Peter Brook 'The Empty Space'

Temenos theatre is intended 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.

This rests on 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.


To change our idea of the world is the crux of shamanism. - Carlos Castaneda 'The Power of Silence'

In ancient times every performance was a sacred event, the natural expression of the interconnectedness of man and his universe, and of his balance between the seen and unseen worlds. Cave painting, rock carving, dancing, drumming, storytelling and singing were some of the many methods used by the shaman to shift levels of consciousness and assist the community to engage with Spirit, to access healing and guidance for the practical survival and well-being of the group. Their life depended on a correct alignment with the environment, the earth, animals, plants, neighbours, the elements and the spirit world.


In Ancient Greece the famous healing Temple of Asclepius was in the same complex as the theatre of Epidaurus; healing and theatre were part of the same process.

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.

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'

Temenos Theatre is not based on a reconstruction of any specific ritual but is a contemporary integration of what underlies rituals and ecstatic states into performance. It offers a participatory experience more than a narrative, a space of heightened consciousness woven out of poetry, music, stillness, dream states, dance and magic.

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. 

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 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

Interview with Alberto Villoldo on  

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'

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