The Lady of the Manor
You Are So Lucky, Halloween 2015
Alder Manor, New York

Creative Director & Designer of Ritual & Performance, Lead Tour Guide Performer, Production Team.

Summary: The poem “To Darkness” by Rilke served as seed inspiration for the inaugural epic You Are So Lucky event at Alder Manor, a gilded estate from another era north of Manhattan in Greystone, Yonkers. This single Halloween night multi-phase, multi-venue event had all the makings of a premiere for an immersive, site-specific theatrical event that would run for many years:  The Lady of the Manor, a Halloween tale.

The Story & The Inspiration:  Once every one hundred years, The Lady of the Manor and her entourage appear on All Hallow’s Eve to remind the souls of the living to have faith in the darkness. In a rite of the night, devotees and celebrants encounter her entourage, explore her estate and, if they are chosen by luck or fate, receive a private audience immersed in her song.

To Darkness
by Rainer Marie Rilke

You darkness from which I come,
I love you more than all the fires
that fence out the world,
for fire illumines a circle
and excludes the rest

But darkness holds it all:
the shape and the flame,
the animal and myself,
how it holds them,
all powers, all sight —
and it is possible: its great strength
is breaking into my body.
I have faith in the night.

Details:  35 buses brought attendees from upper Manhattan to the estate 30 miles north. We choreographed the night within the limits placed on us for the venue, especially regarding limits (for this first event) on how many people could be inside the manor and in its upper floors at any one time. We made use of the entry & gates as thresholds, the side chapel as home to the priestess, the ground floor expanse as a sonic meditation zone, the upper floors as a mysterious portal led by tour guides, outdoor fire pits, and the abandoned back building as a party space.

The Lady of the Manor in Five Acts. In collaboration with the founders and full team, I designed a five act choreography for the night. The Lady of the Manor in 5 ACTS is a pdf of the original, lightly edited architecture and storyline. Ritual preparations on the bus journey, passing the threshold of arrivals, exploring the mystery, an audience with the Lady, the thresholds of departure. Cast included poet tour guides (Poppy Liu, Loki Kevorkian, agent mT in the upper chambers and Eve Bradford as Ladyapples as priestess in the Chapel), minstrels (Sunnyside Social Club and Tom Beale and Mickey Western), fire performers (Enchanted c/o Ali Luminescent), extraordinary troupes of ghosts (LEIMAY ensemble) and land spirits (Feather Bone Black), agents of the Lady (Led by Lindsay Arden), bus matrons, seducers, the song of the lady (Bisan Toron), the gongs of the Gamelatron,  and an evening steeped deeply in magic, chaos and surprise. (Photos below: Tod Seelie, Seej, agent mT, YRSL.)

The job of the poets is to serve the moment in a way that heightens awareness of the mystery. Use movement, words, direction, storyt, silence, laughter, a slow dance. Have fun. Invite. The poets also serve as TOUR GUIDES–really anywhere they feel like it at any time. A tour of the stars, a fictional tour of the courtyard. But, especially, leading tours to the upper floors of the mansion and to an audience with the Lady of the Manor. — fron the “Handbook for the Lady’s Poets”