Academic journal article Theatre Research in Canada

The Impossible Theatre: Roy Mitchell and the Chester Mysteries: Experience, Initiation and Brotherhood

Academic journal article Theatre Research in Canada

The Impossible Theatre: Roy Mitchell and the Chester Mysteries: Experience, Initiation and Brotherhood

Article excerpt

This article considers the influence of Theosophy in the theatre work and theory of director Roy Mitchell (1884-1944).Mitchell's apparently prescient theories concerning mise en scene, motion in acting and the communal role of the audience in the experience of theatre in his popular book Creative Theatre (1929) has led scholars such as Mavor Moore and Renate Usmiani to compare Mitchell's work with that of Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht, Peter Brook, and Jerzy Grotowski. What has been neglected, however, is Mitchell's conviction that theatre is a "medium of revelation" that allows for the universal and, most importantly, the "creative," vital spirit or soul to manifest itself in the material world and to foster the "great end" he called the paradosis; this he defined as a "recreating instant" in which the senses are filled with "form and sound," the emotions stirred "to sympathy," and ideas shaped "to one intense accord." This event makes for the witness "a causeway into an inner world where they rested in a lightning flash of communion." In this way Mitchell envisioned the re-creation of an idealized, "ancient" form of performance, by way of the confluence of theosophical and theatrical practice, in an effort to "proclaim the immortality of the souls of all created things, to restate the law of the cyclic return of souls and of the effects of the deeds of souls, to enunciate the doctrine that all religions, philosophy and science at their highest emanated from a body of custodians of the wisdom of the race."

Cet article examine l'influence de la theosophie sur la theorie et les oeuvres dramatiques du realisateur Roy Mitchell (1884-1944). Dans son populaire livre, Creative Theatre (1929), Mitchell avait elabore des theories apparemment prescientes concernant a la fois la mise en scene, l'interpretation et le mouvement, de meme que le role des spectateurs dans l'experience du theatre. Ainsi, des chercheurs, dont Mavor Moore et Renate Usmiani, ont compare les oeuvres de Mitchell a ceux d'Antonin Artaud, de Bertolt Brecht, de Peter Brook et de Jerzy Grotowski. Ce qui n'a pas ete etudie, par contre, c'est la conviction de Mitchell pour qui le theatre est un << vehicule de revelation, >> permettant l'eruption, dans le monde materiel, de l'ame ou de l'esprit vital universel et, plus important encore, de l'ame << creative. >> Ce << vehicule de revelation >> permet aussi l'avenement de la << grande fin >> qu'il nomme le paradosis et qu'il definit comme un << bref moment de recreation >> pendant lequel les sens sont eveilles par << la forme et le son, >> les emotions aspirees vers << la sympathie >> et les idees rassemblee dans << un intense accord. >> Cet evenement cree pour les spectateurs << une chaussee qui mene vers un monde interieur ou ils reposent dans un eclair de communion. >> De cette facon, Mitchell avait imagine la recreation d'une methode de performance idealisee et << ancienne, >> par le biais de la confluence des pratiques theosophiques et dramatiques dans le but de << proclamer l'immortalite de l'ame de toute chose creee, de reaffirmer la loi cyclique du retour de l'ame et des effets des actions de l'ame, d'enoncer la doctrine selon laquelle toutes les religions, la philosophie et les sciences emanent, et a leur plus haut degre, d'un groupe d'individus qui sont les gardiens de la sagesse de l'etre humain. >>

In the conclusion to his handbook Theosophy in Action (1923), Canadian director, theorist and occult philosopher Roy Mitchell (1884-1944) meditates on the efficacy of the relationship between his theatre practice and his spiritual practice. As he often did, he begins his consideration of the issue at hand by posing a series of questions to the reader that clearly reflected his state of mind: "Because I am of the theatre shall I make this Theosophical Society which has given me so much and which I love for it, a cockpit for all the quarrels, jealousies, and frenzies of the theatre? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.