I, Taylor Chadwick, am the host of the What It Is podcast. A show dedicated to promoting artists in Edmonton and allowing them to speak their minds. I don’t normally review theatre but Jenna asked me to step-up and share my thoughts while she enjoys the sun in Mexico. Here we go…
Close your eyes.
Energy. Impact. Change.
Energy Impact. Change.
The Hierarchy of the Lost Children, from creator/director Mark Harris of NYC-based company Murmur, welcomes you with a warm hello and a soft touch on the arm. If having performers touch you isn’t what you want then you can always say “Please, don’t touch me” and your personal boundaries are safe. However, if you are expecting to just sit back and relax then this experience may not be your scene. This is a show for board game enthusiasts, fans of role playing games and those looking for a completely unique experience.
The Hierarchy of the Lost Children is a three-part seminar or workshop where you get to know where you fit in the Hierarchy itself. Are you part of The Grey Force or will you take the step to becoming a Sleepwalker? Will you become one with the Hierarchy and join in its rituals as an Acolyte? The choice is entirely yours and that’s what makes this experience worth doing. It isn’t a play. It isn’t a film. Yet, somehow it is. It’s an experience.
In the first portion of the evening you will take part in a series of tests, tasks and discussions that will help members of the Hierarchy (and yourself) determine if you are ready to rid yourself of the anchors that bind you to the Grey Force and submit to a greater purpose. If it sounds crazy, that’s because it is. It is literally the craziest thing I have ever experienced as an audience member, ever.
The second act lets you in on a ritual where your true “awareness of self” will be tested. The third and final act gives you a look at The Alpha, the Hierarchy’s patron saint via a 45 minute film.
The first two parts of the experience were mind-boggling fun. I was selected to become a primary with a group of friends, admitted truths about myself during a group session – where I was close to being kicked out of the group by a young man who was clearly enjoying this bizarre role-playing as much as I was.
You may be leery about the pill you are offered or the red droplet on your tongue but nothing can actually hurt you here. It’s a safe and controlled environment. Even if I was feeling completely out of joint and lost in my own head I knew I was safe… but maybe that was the pill I took.
This is easily one of the most unique experiences I have ever had in a theatre. At points I felt like I was the most important person in the room and at other points I was forced to look inward and face real demons living inside of me. I have never had an experience in a theatre that got me so close to running out of the room screaming… not because of boredom but because of an overwhelming feeling of confusion, fear, anger and internal turmoil.
The experience changes when we sit down in the final act to view a film. I was left with so much fear, anger, joy, frustration and in a catharsis I had never felt before that sitting to view the film took the energy away from me. When the experience finally wraps we are left in the theatre not sure whether to clap, storm the stage or exit quietly. I’ll fully admit that I did not clap when the experience came to its climax. Not because I didn’t enjoy the piece but because I was told early in the process to not clap but to simply say “we are one.” We ARE one. We. Are. One.
The third act is so different from everything else that we experienced that I wasn’t sure why we did all of the things in the first two acts, but late last night it dawned on me. We experienced all of those things so we would see ourselves in the film. That we would see what we committed ourselves to over the first two acts in real light. However, this film was such a change of pace that the thoughts of internalization and self reflection began to fade as I struggled to understand why I was viewing this long (and somewhat confusing) film. I wanted to interact with the session leaders more because I was just beginning to get comfortable and ready to commit myself truly to the Hierarchy. I wanted more. “We are one.”
Afterwards, I had a long chat with the people I experienced the piece with. We discussed our actions, our choices, the things we said, the worries we had, the fears we felt, the confusion that overtook us and how we interpreted the controversial third act. This is an experience that demands a long debrief with friends and maybe that’s what makes it all worth while. Maybe that’s what makes The Hierarchy of the Lost Children brilliant.
There were moments of complete and utter catharsis for me in this performance. Moments where I sweat and closed off my body language. Moments where my hands shook and my palms sweat, moments where I wanted to scream, moments where I wanted to cry, moments where I laughed hysterically and moments where I wondered why I agreed to blog about this show.
Just go see it so we can talk about it, alright?
Tickets and more info can be found at canoe2015.com
The Hierarchy of the Lost Children has two shows remaining
Thursday January 29th @ 8pm
Friday January 30th @ 8pm
All performances are in the PCL Studio at the ATB Financial Arts Barns
Visit whatitispodcast.com or check out the show on iTunes.