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  Review: The Rite of Mars

Art Posted by <Violet> on Sunday July 09, @08:18AM
from the well-done-stake dept.

This year's performance of the Rite of Mars this year on Tuesday (Mars day!) June 27 at Berkeley's Julia Morgan Theater, written and produced by Leigh Ann Hussey, was absolutely outstanding! The entire audience was moved to a standing ovation after nearly two hours of seat-gripping dialogue, evocative music, and experienced stage directing. As a novice writer and attendee at the Rites . . . I am anxious to do justice in writing about this well-deserving play and performance.

Let me start by first saying a bit about Leigh Ann. For those reading the Beast Bay who may not know her personally, Leigh Ann is an accomplished Bay Area artist and Thelemite. In her writing, directing and performance of the Rite of Mars this year, she exercised her considerable talent (published poet, novelist, storyteller) in creating this evocative interpretation of the life and times of Jaques de Molay, the twenty-third and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, executed in 1314 as a heretic. I'm told that the play itself was not entirely consistent with history, but rather a fictional portrayal inspired by history and the legacy of the Crusades themselves.

The scene was set by a dramatic entrance of black-clad individuals walking down the center aisle, each carrying a single white candle, their faces veiled by black hoods. A sense of suspense filled the air. On stage, part of the group broke off to the left while a small gathering formed in front of an altar to the right. These members re-robed in religious regalia, backs to the audience, and prayed. They held up their swords –- and chills went down my spine. Call it a “past-life memory” or a provocative on-stage moment, but I felt a shiver move through my body as I felt the intensity of “the holy war” and the mission of the Knights before them. The accompanying music was both mystical as well as intense.

The performance continued with an intense dialogue, poetic and passionate. The cast was well-rehearsed and for an “amateur” performance –- amazing! [I was, no doubt, speculating (while sitting in my seat) that many on stage had some bit of theater experienced tucked away under their garments, either back in high school or early college.]

As to be expected with any stage performance, there were scene changes and costume changes throughout as the story developed and progressed through different acts.

The music was mixed and recorded by Leigh Ann and the movements on-stage were carefully timed and choreographed to articulate the fluctuations in the ensemble. Accompanying the music at key points was the voice-over dialogue of Leigh Ann speaking in a poetic inflection.

I was at times deeply moved by the power and conviction of Leigh Ann onstage. As Jaques de Molay, herself, she expressed both conviction and passion onstage in portraying the politics and war of the times. Her love-affair with “Saladin,” the General of the Saracen army, was a gentle and romantic moment on-stage. Since most of us in the audience know Leigh Ann personally or through mutual friends, this moment was particularly touching.

Having commended Leigh Ann, I would also like to say that the rest of the cast was terrific. There were several people assembled for the Rite and everyone was just great. Most everyone had their lines memorized absolutely perfectly which, to my knowledge, is beyond normal fair for the Rites (scripts are often used and not considered a grievance at all).

And concerning the script, I hope that Leigh Ann sees fit to publish her version of the Rite of Mars, either online or in hard copy. For Thelemites interested in their Templar heritage, there's nothing like it.

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The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.

**Re: Review: The Rite of Mars**
by <Marfiza> on Friday July 14, @11:40AM


Many thanks to Violet for her glowing review; in fact, my script for Mars is online, at http:%%//%%www.elfhill.com/leighann/writings/mars1.html. Music credits are noted in the script where they occur, so you can run right out and get the records for yourself. Unspun Records has the stuff by Qntal if you find it difficult to acquire elsewhere.

Indeed, as I mention in the notes for the script itself, there was little in my tale that was historically correct – but I never let “the truth” get in the way of a good story. ;)

Thanks to everyone involved, cast, crew, and audience, for making it a most memorable experience for me. Now all I have to worry about is how to follow my own act next year, for Jupiter!


- M

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.

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