By B. Simm
CALGARY — Those children of ‘60s that delved deep into introspection, rejected the confinement of institutionalization and trekked off into the wilderness of their soul: who were they, where did they go, why, and where are they now? Exploring the headspace of hippies is far from a simple nostalgic trip. That journey to the centre of the mind is an ongoing realization that when the psychic universe cracked open in the ’60s, much of it still remains uncharted terrain. Playing at Theatre Junction, Nadia Ross’s engaging, experimental production, What Happened To The Seeker, not only asks who were these people, where did they go but why should we care?
“This piece is quite curious because there’s a lot of different parts to it,” explains Theatre Junction’s Artistic Director, Mark Lawes. “The first is an installation on stage that Nadia put together about her childhood. But you don’t really know if it’s fiction or not. She uses a lot of autofiction, and talks about her upbringing with hippy parents in the late ‘60s. Totally immersed in that utopia. But then life catches up with you. You’re confronted with the world and there’s no utopia.”
Although Ross may resort to dramatizing and embellishing aspects of her upbringing, Lawes notes there’s a parallel to her artistic career and the storyline. Ross was once a rising star in Canadian theatre but became disillusioned and disappeared from the scene. Her withdrawal spurs on the journey to seek out the Seekers.
Bending the traditional performance where the audience watches from their seats, What Happened To The Seeker plays musical chairs and divides the audience up into three revolving sections. The first group has an interactive experience, as they step onstage and wonder through the set design. The second listens in on a conversation with Ross and her partner. While the third group is shuffled off to a separate studio where videos document Ross’s travels to India retracing the steps and pilgrimage of the first wave of hippies seeking spiritual enlightenment.
There is, of course, a plot tied to this adventure: What did the Seekers find? But that too has a twist to it. The journey Ross takes the audience on is not only about her personal quest, it’s one that the audience embarks on as well. Lawes says the production is also about, “What is the public seeking? It makes you reflect on all of these ideas associated with the ‘60s, that utopia, spiritual pursuit, and where are we today.”
What Happened To The Seeker runs from Nov. 25-28 at Theatre Junction GRAND.AB, Alberta, interactive theatre, Theatre Junction GRAND, What Happened To the Seeker