THE ROAD TO SOUTHWARK

From master story teller, Dominic Search

Southwark has a very long history of lawlessness, revelry, and art-magick… of theatres, gambling, and stews. The outlaw land where gentry did furtively head after dark to pursue their pleasures of vice beyond the walls and strictures of the City fathers morality… where Shakespeare’s troupe did break new ground. It is to this ancient London borough that we the 400 are bound, so know yea the importance of this major mycelic centre:

In the late 1990’s, not long after John Constable first met The Goose at Cross Bones graveyard on 23rd November 1996, Southwark became home to The Warp Experience. This irregular Temporary Autonomous Zone took place in the cavernous tunnels beneath London Bridge station… a carpark by day and a semi-legit squat venue by night.

Principal among the instigators were Frazer Clark and Daisy Campbell. Frazer was the zippie founder of Encyclopaedia Psychedelica and the infamous Megatripolis nightclub. Daisy was newly at the directing helm of The Warp, officially the longest play in the world as adapted by her father Ken. The Warp Experience was thus a 24 hour psychedelic rave wrapped around a 24 hour psychedelic play… a beautifully mind blowing mix of lawlessness, revelry, and art-magick 😉

Meanwhile, John’s Cross Bones poems had blossomed into a fully fledged time-hoping medieval mystery play. The Southwark Mysteries were first performed on 23rd April 2000 starting at Shakespeare’s Globe and ending at Southwark Cathedral. Much of the cast & crew were drawn from The Warp Experience… Daisy’s daughter Dixie (Luna in Cosmic Trigger) had a staring role as an infant. The play was reprised on 23rd April 2010 inside the cathedral, again featuring familiar faces.

In 2003, a couple of years after the Experience crashed & burned, a community of its veterans formed The Synergy Project, billed as a music festival in a nightclub. That nightclub happened to be the same place as The Warp Experience, but by now Rail Track had evicted the squatters and renovated the space… the Drome had morphed into seOne, London’s largest licensed multi-room venue. 27 events over 6 years… each 2,500+ people within 5 tunnel rooms… musicians, DJs, VJs, performance art, debates, theatre, workshops, multimedia shows, and campaigning stalls. Many familiar faces… including Ken Campbell, who came to read from Illuminatus when Robert Anton Wilson died. Corporatism impinged on the lawlessness, but the revelry and art-magick were strong =)

In 2012, a few of years after Synergy crashed & burned, and having failed an attempted revival of it, this humble scribe approached Daisy with a question: “is it time to put The Illuminatus on stage again”?

The idea was for a play in a rave a la Warp Experience, but this time make every part of it seamlessly immersive, rich with the video art, and enriched by debate. Daisy loved the idea but not the choice of play (there are good reasons why Ken never revived it). As synchronicity would have it, within a week Irving Rappaport (one of the fallen 400) with no prior knowledge asked Daisy the same question while at Ken’s graveside.

And so it was that Cosmic Trigger was triggered. Over the weekend of 23rd November 2014 we veterans of Southwark performed our art-magick to the city of Liverpool 38 years to the day after Ken opened Illuminatus just up the road. Amongst the audience Anwen, Tim, Laura and others were inspired to create Festival 23. Also present, Dave Wybrow manager of The Cockpit, who nurtured us through a reprised & revised 23-show run at his theatre in May 2017.

But who were the two men who had been watching Daisy from the shadows as the Trigger was being pulled?… a certain “James” who knocked up an iconic poster graphic for the Liverpool show, delivering it with a yellow plastic shield… and a “Bill” who’s article for the Guardian “coincided” with the the opening night, entitled “The five lessons I learned from Ken Campbell”…

Could it be that they had some art-magick of their own that would one day need a production manager?… and actor front man??… and be performed by volunteers in Liverpool???

Whatever…

Now, dear 400, time is nearly upon us to Return To The Source in our quest for the dead. The Shard is within 123m of where The Warp Experience began… the Drome / seOne was demolished at the same time the Shard came into being; the phallus eradicating the physicality of The 400’s womb.

Both are within 123m of the site of a Roman-era Temple to the goddess Isis (or so they say)… upstream in Oxford the Thames is called the Isis… “Thames” transliterated into Egyptian hieroglyphics as “tm 3st” means ‘Isis is finished’ as she nears the sea (or so they say). And of course Isis is best known as sister consort to Osiris, Lord of The Dead.

Whatever…

Here’s to Southwark and Her Liberty!

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