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Madame Blavatsky and the Astral Light

Media Release
As part of NZ Fringe 2014, Julia Campbell and Catherine Swallow present Madame Blavatsky and the Astral Light, a new theatre work written by Renee Gerlich.

Directed by Campbell and Swallow, the play will be staged atop the Wellington Botanic Gardens, in a marquee in partnership with Carter Observatory. The show will be accessible to a wide audience including families, with entry by koha to ensure affordability for all attendees. A perfect opportunity to ride the cable car and explore the astral lights of the universe at Carter Observatory.

"Its great to have the support of Carter Observatory and Wellington Museums Trust," says Swallow. "Performing outdoors in a marquee will give us the opportunity to investigate the sounds and lights of this fantastic location. We hope the audience will enjoy it as much as we do!"

About the show

Occultist and mystic Helena P. Blavatsky (18311891) sought to unify scientific and spiritual investigation in an attempt to reach a universal brotherhood of followers. She conducted séances, summoned spirits and claimed to be able to astrally project herself from one place to another. Contemporary and historic interpretations paint a divisive picture of this formidable woman, who shunned Darwin and predicted the divisibility of the atom. This new work focuses on Blavatsky’s life and character in parallel with significant developments in the physics of the time, particularly the distribution of electricity by Thomas Edison and his contemporaries. She was the cofounder of the Theosophical Society which still exists today.

"We want to explore the idea of another, unseen world,” says Campbell. "Blavatsky claimed a connection with this unseen world and we want to look at whether this was true or the product of the strong imagination of a gifted storyteller. We hope that it will turn out to be a bit of both."

Performers use puppets, physical theatre, music and humangenerated electrical sources to explore Blavatsky’s influence on significant thinkers of the time, including the poet WB Yeats. Using a variety of nontraditional effects, Campbell and Swallow will explore what it may have been like for nineteenth century travelling players.

Performance dates: 1316 February 2014

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