The sacred and profane collide in Jo Blake and Carbon Theatre’s new performance The Witness , inspired by the rediscovered Gospel of Mary Magdalene . The Witness is part of a larger multi stranded art project called Heresy , which also includes an installation at The Grosvenor Centre , an exhibition at Delapré Abbey and county wide community workshops.
Moving through humour, bold physicality and intricate storytelling, The Witness reveals how one womans buried 2 ,000 year old history comes in to the life of a contemporary wo man, demanding that the missing pages be written anew. While she was never formally branded a heretic, Mary Magdalene one of Jesus’s companions, often negatively framed and misportrayed as a prostitute and her teachings have long been pushed to one side , and never legitimised by the Church But three copies of the Gospel have now been found , having been buried in the sands of Egypt for the last 1,500 years. All three copies have the same missing pages , but those that remain reveal Magdalene to be a spiritual adept and closest companion of Christ.
Mary’s fragmented testimony has been exiled and denigrated over millennia, emblematic of the omittance of women , their voices, and bodies in Western society, religion, and its teachings. The Witness is brought to life by Midlands based interdisciplinary performer Jo Blake , who examines Mary’s heretical Gospel and how she has from the start been suppressed and dismissed , reframing it as necessary and courageous female testimony.
Blake comments I’m thrilled to finally be bringing this story to light it has taken quite some time and effort There is so much in Mary Magdalene that feels relevant to our times, for people of any faith or none she is courage, endurance, transformation. There is no one Mary Magdalene. The Witness is our imagining of her, and her missing pages.
Alongside the touring performance, the multimedia exhibition strand of the Heresy project , Hidden Lineage s will run at Delapré Abbey over Easter. Working with three other artists, the exhibition explores, reframes and questions heresy as a courageous and life giving act of transgression , that affirms a long denied lineage of feminine spiritual knowledge.