21st-23rd November 2014, Camp & Furnace, Liverpool / 26th-29th November 2014, LOST, London.
4th-27th May 2017, The Cockpit, London.
“In researching occult conspiracies, one eventually faces a crossroad of mythic proportions – known as Chapel Perilous in the trade” – Robert Anton Wilson
In 1976 Ken Campbell staged Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s trilogy of novels called Illuminatus, an attempt to “do for the state what Voltaire did for the church”; in which they attempted to portray a world in which every known conspiracy theory was true.
“Robert Anton Wilson’s ‘Illuminatus’ had a profound effect on me and the Cosmic Trigger Play will no doubt do the same for a whole new generation” – Alan Moore, renowned graphic novel author
Wilson then wrote the non-fiction book Cosmic Trigger in an attempt to explain what had happened to him as a direct result of writing Illuminatus, as well as his other brain-change experimentation. It is a journey through Chapel Perilous, a dangerous occultist crossing point, from which one either emerges paranoid or agnostic.
This book has been changing the lives of those lucky enough to stumble upon it since it was first published in 1977. Daisy Campbell decided to adapt it, both in homage to the mind-expanding philosophy of Wilson, and to her father and his epic production of Illuminatus.
“This one show has more interesting stuff going on than a whole season of other plays” – 5/5, London City Nights
Structured as three one-hour acts, the play dances between two timelines – the writing of Illuminatus in the 1960’s and the staging of it in the 1970’s; and also between two realms – real life biography and fictional segments from Illuminatus. It seamlessly blends comedy, drama, sci-fi, and the down-right weird.
It’s a big production with a lot going on… fourteen actors (including two cameos that change each night) together play 33 characters… plus a different surprise cabaret performer per night… and sumptuous wrap-around digitally animated scenery blended with old-fashion stage trickery. You absolutely are meant to get completely lost down this rabbit hole!
“The Play has the inherent magical qualities of a collective ritual… a full-throttle magical adventure”
– Boing Boing
The shows are a form of art-magick: the intentional use of performance to create change in the viewer’s psyche that expands their mind and creates ripples well beyond the theatre.
The play’s storyline (and Wilson’s real life) includes Aleister Crowley, Dr Tim Leary, LSD, brain-change experiments, tantric yoga, mediation, and techniques for selecting reality tunnels. Our staging, stagecraft and direction are designed to constantly challenge the audience’s perception of reality and encourage them to question the nature of belief.
As Crowley himself said, “the artist is in truth a very much superior being to the Yogi or the Magician“.
“Four hours of great fun… with the glinting edge of relevance to 2017” – 4/5, Broadway World
In the age of Trump, ISIS, Brexit, and climate change, Wilson’s message is as relevant today as it was in the 1960’s. Most people are slaves to their beliefs and enact unconscious behavioural programming learned from parents. peers. schooling, the media and 4 billion years of evolution. This can lead to terrible and unnecessary conflict and suffering.
But it doesn’t have to be that way – beliefs are infinitely malleable under conscious control; behavioural responses can be intentionally reprogrammed. The techniques aren’t complex, but do require the Will to change. Our aim is to create a push.
“A sprawling work of multi-layered metafiction… It’s imaginative, often hilarious, and brilliantly bonkers.” – 4/5, The Stage
Not content with the already insane complexity of mounting our first production together in 2014, we decided to set the opening night within the Find The Others Conferestival which we organised in parallel… and to built ourselves a theatre within a warehouse in 4 days flat.
As Ken used to say “Ask yourself: is it HEROIC?“… if it isn’t bonkers impossible then it isn’t worth doing!
“Intriguing, ambitious. A genuine voice; compassionate, witty, life affirming. Pure theatre”
– Terry Johnson, Olivier Award winning writer/director
The 2014 run was part-financed by crowdfund. The 2017 run was supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and was co-produced by The Cockpit; we also produced four accompanying Special Events.
For further details see the production’s extensive website – https://cosmictriggerplay.com/
“A theatrical and cultural message in a bottle from another planet” – The Guardian newspaper