Staged throughout the day and night in one of the world’s most significant prehistoric regions, HALF LIFE: Journey into the Neolithic offered a physical and emotive experience which revealed the dark but inspiring beliefs of Scotland’s early Neolithic inhabitants. The landscape of Kilmartin Glen, mid-Argyll is home to thousands of years of ritual markings, standing stones, burial cairns, henges and Neolithic cup and ring-marked rocks. It carries the beginnings of the cultural landscape.
HALF LIFE was a major landscape work and the first co-production between the National Theatre of Scotland and NVA.
HALF LIFE started by day, when audiences could explore sites and installations based around known and rarely seen prehistoric landmarks. The route followed recently recovered archaeological field notes into the area. These include newly discovered cup and ring marked stones carved 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. Dense forests were manipulated to create new entrances and vistas around chosen sites, while audio compositions enhance the existing sounds of the natural environment.
In the evening, an outdoor production was staged in a forest location above the ancient fort of Dunadd, at the entrance to Kilmartin Glen. The audience entered a vast set constructed out of thousands of cut logs spreading across the recently deforested landscape. Seen through the eyes of an eminent archaeologist, in HALF LIFE the realms of the living and the dead seem to merge, bringing to light the remarkable beliefs that focussed the ritual activity in our earliest societies; beliefs that still echo through the present landscape.
In the community, the National Theatre of Scotland worked with 100 third-year pupils from Lochgilphead High School over a 13-week period. A team of artists explored the idea of 'Journey' in the physical, emotional and spiritual sense. The work created was a combination of live performance, video imagery, art installation and music composition.
photo © NVA, Graeme Stuart