Artist to stage all-night vigil and 24 hour pilgrimage around Liverpool, inspired by an old fairytale
The Handless Project: Journey will see Aleasha Chaunté and two collaborators perform around the city from 5pmon Friday 19th May until 2am on Sunday 21st May, incorporating a ‘sleepover’ at Unity Theatre.
On one weekend in May 2017, The Handless Project: Journey, an ambitious performance piece by artist Aleasha Chaunté, will see performers and participants embark on an all-night vigil and 24 hour pilgrimage around the streets and green spaces of Liverpool.
The work, which pushes the boundaries of theatre and performance, is inspired by the fairy tale ‘The Handless Maiden’ – an enigmatic tale about a girl whose father cuts off her hands to save himself from a bad deal.
Aleasha is inviting members of the public to join her as she leaves Unity Theatre at dawn, to walk with her and two collaborators (Vicci Riley and Joanne Tremarco) until 2am the next morning. Along the way she will be visiting places around Liverpool that are of importance to people living in the city, marking them with small rituals and performances – singing songs, telling stories or building temporary markers.
The weekend will be preceded by several community workshops across Liverpool, asking people to tell their own stories about their map of the city.
Handless Project creator and performer Aleasha Chaunté said “This is about personal landmarks, so we will honour the places that are meaningful to individuals who we have met during the development of the piece, be they ordinary houses, park benches and swings or a workplace that is no longer there.”
Ahead of the 24 walk, as part of Light Night and Unity Theatre’s reopening celebrations, Aleasha will lead a procession, starting at Liverpool Cathedral and moving along the short route to Unity Theatre. On arrival, she will awaken the ‘sleeping’ building (which has been closed since January for an £845,000 redevelopment project), with ritual and light. She and 20 participants will then retire to one of Unity Theatre’s performance spaces until dawn (around 4am), to prepare for the pilgrimage, which will end in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The full details and route are still under wraps, but organisers advise that the weekend will be divided into ‘Chapters’, details of which will soon be announced. There will be opportunities for members of the public to join the route at various points around the city, and to share meals and celebrate at a closing party at a secret location until 2am on Sunday 21 May.
Aleasha said “The Handless Project is my response to an old fairytale I read when I was very young called ‘The Handless Maiden’. The story follows a classic female Heroes’ journey trajectory and contains much folk wisdom that has been very useful to me. The project isn’t about telling the story itself, it is rather more about what the handless maiden spurred me to do.”
The Handless Project: Journey follows on from “Show Me Your Hands” – a public handwashing ritual which took place during Light Night 2016.
The Handless Project: Journey has been made possible through funding from Arts Council England.
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Listings announced for Friday 19 May:
5pm – 11pm Bedtime Stories installation in Chapter House
5pm – 5.45pm Public handwashing ritual in the Lady Chapel
6pm – 6.20pm Meditative procession through the main church space, continuing to Unity Theatre.
6.30pm Arrival at Unity Theatre and ceremonial ‘awakening’ of the building
6.30pm – 11pm Installation and performed meditation on the stages of sleep.
11pm – 4am All night event in preparation for a 24 hour walk the following day.**
** Limited tickets to participate in the all night vigil available via the Unity Theatre Box Office. https://www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk/whats-on/the-handless-project.html
The Handless Project: Journey continues until Sunday 21 May 2am. Visit www.thehandlessproject.com for full details.