We had the chance to talk to Susie Lamb about her forthcoming production Horae, which starts at the Complex tonight. We asked her about the inspiration for the piece and the ancient mysteries of sacred prostitution. You can see the results below…
A 40 minute Theatre experience, written and performed by Susie Lamb
February 20- 26, 7 pm (Extra shows 4pm, Saturday 25 and Sunday 26)
The play is about the “ancient mysteries of sacred prostitution”. What exactly does that mean?
There is believed by some people to have been a practice thousands of years ago where particular women had sex as a sacred or ritual act within a spiritual context. It wasn’t referred to as prostitution then because the concept didn’t exist but they were extremely well respected and often became very rich. They were also considered to be healers and seers. Over time this practice which had occurred in temple or protected areas became pushed onto the street and gradually turned into something else. The women became poorer and vulnerable.The piece explores these changes and also the world of these women through the eyes of one character and describes the context and social structure in which it existed – very different from today’s world!
You have a background in Dance/ Acting and Archaeology. It’s an unusual mix! Can you tell us about where you trained/ studied?
Originally I got a degree in Archaeology but even as I was studying that I was beginning to act. When I finished my archaeology degree I went straight to the Gaiety School of Acting and trained for two years. A few years later I started to dip into various kinds of dance. Last year I finished an MA in Dance in the university of Limerick. Yes, it is a mix but it’s all connected – even the archaeology is very useful in the making of this piece because I visited certain archaeological sites in the Mediterranean as part of my research.
Where did the inspiration for the piece come from?
It came from a very small article I read in a history magazine about ten years ago but it fascinated me and I wrote a very short piece about it. Then I started visiting different places and expanding on the writing. But the information was very fragmented so this became part of how the story is told, in pieces. And I think this gives it a certain quality. I have written a novel on the same subject. I worked with a script editor to adapt it for stage.
What relevance does this story have for modern Ireland?
That’s a really interesting question and I hope by the end of the run I can answer it more fully when I see how the audience reacts. I suppose the most obvious thing is that it opens a dialogue around the autonomy of a woman’s body and what that is – this is obviously very topical. Another very obvious one is the discussion around prostitution itself. Though the piece doesn’t try to consciously advocate prostitution as it exists today, I hope it prompts the question – how did we get from this place to this place in how we think of women’s sexuality. A lot of the changes were brought about because of changes in society and economics. Sexuality exists in everyone so anything which reflects on it is relevant in some way, even if it’s looking at it from a different perspective. But ask me in a few weeks and I am sure I will have more to say on this question!