Sunday, 16 November 2014

Cosmic Trigger Play

Without a doubt the best novel I've ever read is The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. I won't say too much about it in this article because I've written a full-length review of the book here: (coming soon). After I'd finished reading it I was surprised to find that is had been adapted into a stage play. This I found incredible because the surreal settings and grotesque structure of the story must be very difficult to adapt. Nevertheless it was done and it was very successful. It starred some actors who are now household names like Jim Broadbent and Bill Nighy. It premiered on the 23rd of November 1976... it had to be the 23rd didn't it!... at the Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream & Pun. The production was nine hours long and divided into five separate plays; from the Law of Fives in the Principia Discordia, each with, or course, twenty-three acts timed at twenty-three minutes long. The play then moved to the National Theatre, London and the cast was joined by Shea and Wilson themselves, the Trilogy's authors, as extras. The set design was done by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty was one of the play's biggest fans. It doesn't surprise me to learn that because both men went on to form The KLF, a band manifestly inspired by Illuminatus!. The director of the play was a most remarkable man, Ken Campbell; he is so interesting that he's even been the subject of discussion at the Probe conferences, see: I can understand Campbell's passion for the Trilogy completely and it doesn't surprise me to find out that he was connected to the alternative community at Damanhur. Campbell died in 2008 but in 2014 his daughter Daisy Eris Campbell will be presenting a brand new stage production of The Cosmic Trigger, based on Wilson's biographical trilogy. It premiers on the 23rd of November, exactly thirty-eight years after Illuminatus! hit the stage. The Cosmic Trigger play covers the Illuminatus! play production history too; Ms Campbell jr has not only written and directed the play, but she stars in it as her own mother. There is a personal link in her life to the show that goes beyond the mere professional. Her parents revealed to her that she was conceived in the dressing rooms backstage at the Illuminatus! premier. Her mother is the actress Prunella Gee who is best known today for playing Doreen Heavey in Coronation Street. In 1976 she joined the cast of The Illuminatus! Trilogy and fell in love with Ken Campbell. They gave their daughter the middle name Eris after the Discordian goddess from the Trilogy. My regret is that I will not be able to see the play myself because it's only showing on three nights in Liverpool and five nights in London when I'll be unavailable. If any HPANWO-readers go, please tell me what it's like. With any luck it will tour again in the near future. Tickets can be bought here:

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