On Having No Head
In 1961, English philosopher, writer, mystic and spiritual teacher Douglas Edison Harding first published his book ‘On Having No Head, Zen and the rediscovery of the Obvious’. With this, he basically issued a universal invitation to live ‘without a head’, i.e. to simply stop and take a look to see beyond manifested forms, and look into the very foundation of what we perceive as “reality”. I wasn’t yet familiar with this concept of headlessness, but after being cast as the characterization of the author in writer/director Alina Hughes’ smart, insightful and whimsical stage dramatization of the book I quickly learned that Douglas Harding had garnered a huge fanbase over the years, among whom David Bowie, who has described it as one of his all-time favorite books.
It isn’t hard to see why. It took me some time, but once it clicks.. it’s hard to let Mr. Harding’s words go. Throughout rehearsals we explored the many ways in which one can ‘prove’ the human body does not, in fact, have a head on top of its shoulders. To play alongside Rada-colleague Luke Wilson as my Rational Self was definitely a blessing, because we soon discovered that the play was much more than just a fun educational trip through Harding’s spiritual teachings: in the end, we experienced a quite thorough exploration of society’s conformities and the paradoxes of mental health. It all culminated into a final showing at the Bloomsbury Festival for the ‘New Wave’ program, which showcased new writing, and was received with an average 4 star rating from the sold-out audience. The play is currently pending funding for more research and further development.
In the pipeline are already some new projects, so let’s hope I get to return to this!