Vesalius: splitting the heart sac


The time for secrets is over.

Today we split the heart sac.

In this small room we unpack the hidden things, set free the stopped voices, the sins kept silent, the shut breath.

Here, at the terminus, nothing matters.

(words by Alan Hay, photo by Martin Crook)

Vesalius – a Requiem was the first music-theatre piece created under the moniker of The Resurrectionists, a company formed around the partnership of Richard Chew and myself. It previewed in the Hexagon Theatre, macin March 1996 but was designed for the extraordinary dynamic of The Old Operating Theatre Museum, Southwark where it ran for 2 weeks in May/June of that year. Vesalius was the recipient of  a coveted Barclays New Stages Award and was well received.

A version of the piece travelled (courtesy of The British Council) to Teatri di Vita, Bologna in January 1998, and despite intermittant suggestions of a revival, the cadaver has remained silent ever since. …Until now, that is. Richard, Cheryl Pickering and their family emigrated to her native Adelaide several years ago and thanks to their labours Vesalius – a Requiem will be presented by their new company Various People Inc. at the Royal Institute of Australia, in Adelaide.

Vesalius will be performing at RiAus between the 3rd and 6th June 2010. there will be a preview performance on the 2nd June. (link to RiAus site...)

In a mixture of excitement and trepidation, Alan and I agree that revisiting the show is comparable to a former lover emerging from the distant past. Vesalius had a very powerful effect on those who were involved and whether the show can stand the test of time, remains to be seen. Reaquainting yourself with an old lover is not always a good idea, even if the flame still burns strong. But the joy will be discovering how the show’s themes and resonances have shifted for a generation who have been fed nightly doses of CSI and for whom the ‘Body in Performance’ has a more established currency.


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