“In 1976 Ken Campbell staged Illuminatus! in Liverpool. This production — and the novel that it was based on — irrevocably changed the lives of all who were involved, both performers and audiences, and wound up opening The Cottesloe at the National Theatre. It is still talked about in Liverpool as one of the city’s great happenings.
We are now re-invoking that mythic production but this time telling the story that surrounded the writing and staging of Illuminatus!: the extraordinary life and times of its co-author, Robert Anton Wilson, as the central thrust; the unstoppable force that was Ken Campbell barging into the action from behind the scenes; and some extracts from the original production woven through. As Ken would say, ‘this is an enthusiasts’ production’.
Daughter of Ken, Daisy Campbell, continued his legacy by directing the epic revival of the 24 hour play The Warp in various theatres, festival spaces and raves around London in the 90’s.”
“Daisy’s adaptation recounts the period of Bob’s life around the inspiration for, writing of and theatrical culmination of Illuminatus!, a period where he also met iconic countercultural figures like Timothy Leary, Alan Watts and William Burroughs, all of whom feature in the play. The narrative slips in and out of Illuminatus! itself and the production employs song, music, projections and stagecraft to evoke the real-life hallucinogenic trip through conspiracy, paranoia and enlightenment that transformed Bob from a simple Playboy editor into the influential countercultural figure he is today.
Robert Anton Wilson sought to induce in his readers agnosticism; not just about God, but about everything; and all his work blurs the lines between truth and fiction. This will be reflected in a staging style that often breaks down theatrical conventions, with actors amidst the audience, tiny stage-sets that can pop up anywhere and cutting-edge projection trickery, allowing the very walls of the theatre to drop away at one climactic moment. Alan Moore (The Watchmen, V For Vendetta) will voice The World’s Most Intelligent Computer, and Jamie Reid (Sex Pistols album artist) will lend his occult artworks to the production.
But there’s more…”