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William Blake has messages for us that are prescient and more vital than ever:
The Winners’ shout the Losers’ Curse
Dance before dead England’s Hearse!
Blake’s work aims to heal the wounds of a divided self and a divided nation…
Albion, Awake! is a one-man performance that unleashes Blake’s energy on stage, envisioning his life, politics and relationships through his letters, poetry, prose and artwork. 1799-1804 is a crucial time in the life of William and Catherine Blake as they leave London for a new and promising life in an idyllic cottage by the sea in Felpham, West Sussex. Hopes are dashed with the onset of Catherine’s frequent illness; the Blakes’ survival dependant on pursuing commercial work at the expense of their visionary masterworks; a growing alienation from Blake’s patron, the poet and author William Hayley and finally, arrest and trial for sedition. Yet out of this adversity Blake forges his epic illuminated poems: Milton, which begins with the ‘second National anthem’, And did those feet in ancient time.
Albion, Awake! combines Blake’s own words with the mesmerising power of his “Illuminations”- the exquisite hand-coloured engravings that form an essential part of his major published works. Using Michael Chekhov’s radical techniques for the actor, this performance is a layered, multimedia experience of psychophysical theatre and a living embodiment of Blake’s ‘Visionary Forms Dramatic’. Blake’s limitless imagination explodes prejudices of race, gender, identity and what it means to be human.
Michael Chekhov was a visionary actor, director and theatre practitioner from the famous Moscow Art Theatre. Chekhov’s techniques, strongly rooted in the power of imagination and archetypes, lend themselves naturally to Blake’s work, enabling the actor to establish a unique relationship between the mind and body in performance.
Such a treat. Fabulous and inspiring. Thank you. Romy Maistry
So sensitive and lovely. And the beautiful words of William Blake bring you a bit closer to heaven! Rachel Govan
Astonishing and elevating. Dr. Peter Dodd
Extraordinary to see something I’ve recently begun to explore come vividly to life in the imagination of another. A welcome stimulus to dig deeper into Blake’s work and imagination. Thank you. Matthew Snape
Very well received, some people (including me) moved to tears. I’m getting questions about the future plans for this performance. Waqās Ahmed, Polymath Festival Director