So the audience are entering a very immersive total environment, sort of like a performance installation, then they’re sitting amongst the performance, and the sound, and the moving objects. There’s a strong sense of intimacy and proximity. The idea is we’re creating this contract with the audience and we’re going to conjure and create a path towards the ultimate symbolic mountain, but they have to participate with their own imagination to reach it.
Sophia Brous talks about Mount Analogue, her collaboration with film maker Ben Russell. The work is a creative adaptation of a 1952 surrealist novel by Rene Daumal, an allegory for the journey of life towards truth.
Ultima: What has excited you most about Mount Analogue?
Sophia Brous: This has been a piece with a long gestation, starting with long discussions with Ben Russell back in 2017-18. Years went by, and there was a pandemic, and the project was pushed back and held up. All that has contributed in a personal way in trying to create this destination, Mount Analogue. The various delays meant that the realisation of the piece feels all the more significant. The making of the work is the Mount Analogue, and in many ways that is what the book is about in my own opinion. The destination of the project is actually the process of reaching it.
How did you discover the book?
It’s such jewel of a book by Rene Daumal, it’s such an incredibly rich, multi-layered novella thet has layers and layers of symbolism and esoteric descriptions and impressions of the world. Daumal was a follower of spiritual searchers like G.I. Gurdjieff and Jeanne de Salzman and the surrealist Andre Breton. So it’s this interesting multi-disciplinary relationship to making sense of the world, that seems at times quite precise and scientific, and at other times entirely surreal. I was beguiled by the storytelling, the layers of symbolism, and richness of the imagery. It has all these mountain songs and poetic images all the way through.
From the beginning I was interested in this cross-disciplinary aural environment, a theatrical experiment in manifesting a mountain. Not a piece of scripted, rehearsed theatre, because that might betray the book. The book felt like a manifestation of a vision and I wanted the show to be as well.
Give us an idea of what we in the audience might experience on the night?
The purpose of the show is to fire the audience’s imagination. To create this world and then place that vision in the minds of the audience. I wanted to use all these different materials and methods, instruments and means to tell this story – in this case, it’s sound, music, moving image and projection – to create an evocation of the storytelling without filling in the pieces or telling the audience what to think and believe.
So the audience are entering a very immersive total environment, sort of like a performance installation, then they’re sitting amongst the performance, and the sound, and the moving objects. There’s a strong sense of intimacy and proximity, where they’re sitting within the creation of Mount Analogue and in many ways they’re contributing to it.
The idea is we’re creating this contract with the audience and we’re going to conjure and create a path towards the ultimate symbolic mountain, but they have to participate with their own imagination to reach it.
Read more and buy tickets for the shows 23 and 24 September here.