Drawing inspiration from Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo and its setting in the jungles of Peru, The Boat Goes Over the Mountain plays at the Blue Room from September 10 – 28 . We caught up with actor, writer and director Andrew Hale to talk about this account of his personal search for enlightenment through nine ayahuasca ceremonies.
The title of the piece is drawn from the documentary, My Best Fiend. On seeing a picture of the 320 ton boat being dragged up jungle slopes for Fitzcarraldo, Director Werner Herzog proclaimed, “It is a great metaphor – for what, I don’t know to this day, but I know it’s a great metaphor.”
“For me,” says Hale, “The boat is the self we know and have constructed through life, and the whole idea of what some might call the search for self, some might call enlightenment, is this attempt to take this thing that we know, to a space we don’t know. In some sense it’s a crazy thing to try and do, a Sisyphean thing to do. Ultimately in one sense it is doomed to fail, because boats don’t go over mountains, but hopefully there is a victory of another sort out the other side of it ”
The play chronicles Andrew’s travels to those selfsame Peruvian jungles to take part in a vision quest, utilising ayahuasca, “…a traditional brew used for healing and divination” that contains the hallucinogen, DMT. “I didn’t get tied up in any of the cosmology of it. I was really there to figure out who I was, as a person.
And so you ask the question and then you drink, then you sort of wait for the answer, and the answer may not be the on you expected or want…Sometimes it’s a bit cryptic…It’s been great to be doing the show because it has kind of kept the whole experience present for me, and I have had to revisit and rethink some of the visions that I have had. As humans we are kind of at the coalface between mater and spirit. Our thoughts are just spirit, in one interpretation, one way of looking at it, and the ceremony lifts the veil, in a sense, on the way you are moving and working in the world.”
On stage, the retelling of this journey is aided by award-winning designer India Mehta , and live music from Dave Richardson, whose mix of live and recorded music helps capture the “earthy drum feel” of the shamanic ceremony. Ultimately though, this is a personal quest for an understanding of self, told by the searcher. “If theatre is going to work at all it needs to come from a space of honesty and a space of vulnerability. I am hoping, and presuming, and I do think there are universal themes that come out from this story.”
For tickets and session times click here