Fellowship of Isis History Archive - The Isis Theatre Company
Olivia Robertson and cast members of "The Swans of Lir" presented at the Huntington Castle Theatre
The Isis Theatre Company
Huntington Castle Theatre
On the evening of September 17, 2004, the newly refurbished Huntington Castle Theater, which is located on the grounds of Clonegal Castle, re-opened it's doors. A dramatised version of the letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh was presented by the English Chamber Theatre’s Irish Literary of “Dearest Nancy, Darling Evelyn”. The production is based on the correspondence between Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh. These two remarkable literary figures of the twentieth century were members of a glittering and brilliant group of contemporaries, whose names were household words at the time.
On December 21st, 2004 in honor of Winter Solstice, a version of the FOI Liturgy drama the “Opening of the Eye of Vision” from the book “Melusina, Life Centres of the Goddess” was performed. It was produced by Catherine Sothern and enacted under the title "The Eye of Vision" by the prestigious Carlow Little Theatre Society on the stage of the theatre at Huntington Castle.
The play and the liturgy drama upon which it was based were both written by Lady Olivia Robertson, who is FOI co-founder and an accomplished author and artist. The play was followed by a lecture presented by Lady Olivia titled "Brigid - Goddess and Saint." The event was sponsored by WolfBlass and promoted by Red Promotions. It was the second theatrical production held in Huntington Castle Theatre since the extensive renovations that were completed earlier in 2004.
“For those with long memories and a touch of sentiment it was good to see action once again on the stage of the Theatre at Huntington Castle … This Theatre was once the Mecca for those who loved drama and music, as it should be presented. It was easy to visualise the packed audience of those days with the sloping rows of seats on the balcony and the straining necks at the rear of those on the ground floor as the patrons tried to catch every word and action from the stage.
In those days the stage had side wings and steps leading up to a viewing platform on the stage below. The building had been converted from a grain store in the early 18th century and must surely rank as one of the oldest Theatres of its sort in rural Ireland.
It had its own electric lighting long before the ESB was ever heard of as Huntington Castle was one of the first houses in rural Ireland to have electric light. Alexander Durdin having installed electric lighting in the castle from a generator which was driven by a turbine which was turned by water from the river Derry. The first lighting of the castle was in 1888.” (Carlow Nationalist)
The Isis Theatre Company is Formed
In the Spring of 2005, Gwendoline Rouiller, Dame Commander of the Noble Order of Tara of the Fellowship of Isis, was walking on Mount Leinster with her two cats Phoenix and Ashtar. Dame Gwendoline who is a respected healing practitioner, has a previous professional background in nightclub management, and is head of Red Promotions, the company that had promoted "The Eye of Vision" at Winter Solstice at Huntington Castle Theatre. She was mulling over a possible solution to scheduling problems that had arisen when attempting to form a tour with the theatre group. It was then that she received an idea that was truly inspired - she and Lady Olivia could form their own organization for the performance of Lady Olivia’s Mystical and Alchemical plays!
When the concept of forming their own theatre company was presented to Lady Olivia, her response was immediately enthusiastic. Dame Gwendoline writes: “…the idea refused to be kept contained in any way and within a week I found myself mentioning it to Olivia. Immediately her eyes lit up! ‘That’s a great idea, lets do it.’ Thus the Isis Theatre Company was born and on May 1st the first recording was made.”
On Saturday, June 4th, 2005 at Huntington Castle Theatre, the “The Eye of Vision” was again presented as a theatrical performance, this time by the newly formed Isis Theatre Company. In addition to the text of the FOI Liturgy drama “Opening of the Eye of Vision” the play included additional materials, an introduction which included a lovely passage from “Winged Destiny” by Fiona MacLeod (William Sharp), music sung by Jessica Galvan, Lady Olivia Robertson acting as narrator and guide, announcing the various scenes and dances and providing commentary, along with beautiful, original musical compositions by Minette Quick, ArchDruidess of the Druid Clan of Dana.
Dame Gwendoline writes: “Everyone present with a heart could hear and feel the energy behind the genius of Olivia’s writings.”
And it was the intuitive vision, the willingness to listen to that inner voice and to act upon it by Dame Gwendoline, that helped to create this exciting new venue within the Fellowship of Isis - the Isis Theatre Company.
Ritual dramas enacted by the Isis Theatre Company include:
"The Eye of Vision" performed June 4, 2005 (Huntington Castle Theatre)
"Rite of Rebirth" performed July 16 and 17, 2005 (Huntington Castle Theatre)
"Swans of Lir" performed August 21, 2005 (Huntington Castle Theatre)
"The Eye of Vision" performed February 1st and 2nd, 2006 (Dublin)
"Cinderella, the Mystery of the Sandal of Rhodope" performed August 19th, 2006 (Huntington Castle Theatre)
Temple of Isis Priestess Le'ema Kathleen Graham of San Rafael, California visited Lady Olivia at Clonegal Castle during the scheduled dates of the "Cinderella" production. She was invited to take part in the performance. She writes: "I performed 6 dances in the theatre there during a mystery play, "Rhodope's Sandal." My son was the handsome leading man. It was pretty amazing!"
In addition to the scheduled plays, the Isis Theatre is hosting a series of events entitled "Afternoon Gatherings." The activities include Play Readings, Dancing, Poetry, Song, Picture Exhibitions and Book Signings by Lady Olivia Robertson.
The Isis Theatre Company is currently inactive. If you would like to make inquiries please write to the address below for information:
The Isis Theatre Company
The Isis Theatre Company was founded by Olivia Robertson and Gwendoline Rouiller. If you wish to contact Gwendoline please write to her at this address:
Dame Commander of the Noble Order of Tara.
Isis Theatre Company
An account by Gwendoline Rouiller, used by permission.
On December 21st for the Winter Solstice of 2004 at Huntington Castle Theatre, Clonegal which is nestled between Carlow, Wexford and Wicklow in the green Isle of Ireland. A play written by the Hon. Olivia Robertson was performed.
The ‘Eye of Vision’ was acted by the award winning, Carlow Little Theatre Society. The evening was a wonderful success.
However when spring came upon us and the possibility of a tour came about, holidays and work schedules did not allow the free flowing of our time line. So it became evident to me something had to change.
The inspiration came to me one day while walking on Mount Leinster with my two cats Phoenix and Ashtar. It would be ideal if we could be more independent. Self-sufficient perhaps. What if we were able to enjoy booking a tour around Ireland and the UK with more freedom of movement. Have the ability to make the appropriate arrangements fitting into our own requirements and time lines. It was as though the Goddess Herself heard my call and I could not help feeling the presence of Lawrence Olivia’s brother.
So it came to me that Olivia and I needed to form our own organisation for the performance of her Mystical and Alchemical plays.
Usually when an idea comes to me I leave it be for about 10 days, then I think it over for about 10 days and finally I discuss it openly for about 10 days. This way I feel it is more than a thought but now has form and can lead to a foundation of some sort. On this occasion the idea refused to be kept contained in any way and within a week I found myself mentioning it to Olivia. Immediately her eyes lit up! ‘That’s a great idea, lets do it.’ Thus the Isis Theatre Company was born and on May 1st the first recording was made.
On June 4th 2005 in Huntington Castle Theatre, the home of the Hon. Olivia Robertson the “Eye of Vision” was read out by the actors of the Isis Theatre Company to great success. Olivia took her vision to the public with an explanation of each enactment this time it was understood. Everyone present with a heart could hear and feel the energy behind the genius of Olivia’s writings.
Dame Commander of the Noble Order of Tara.
La Lumiére, Moyacomb Meadow, Clonegal, Co. Wexford
From Olivia Robertson
May, 2007: "Gatherings of the Arts"
Following the success of the recent informal gathering of FOI members and their friends, at the Castle on the afternoon of Sunday, April 1st, and inspired by the Goddess Brigid, the Circle of Brigid will, with The Theatre of Isis, from time to time, co-host ‘Gatherings of the Arts’ in the old Mill Theatre at Clonegal Castle, thus reviving the Clonegal Centre for the Arts, which was run by Lawrence and Olivia Durdin-Robertson for many years during the 1980’s.
The original Mill was once a Barn theatre, which was very popular in the 18th Century. In the 19th Century the family reinstated it for family theatricals – for which Olivia wrote plays from the age of 10, and invited the local community to performances. In his early years, the Irish Television celebrity, Peter Murphy, who lives half a mile away, ran the Clonegal Theatre Company there.
Continuing the work of the Theatre of Isis, and as a regular contribution to the Gatherings, Olivia Robertson will present her impromptu playlets on contemporary themes, which are much enjoyed, as she always has before Temple ceremonies. In this way, and as a joint venture, The Theatre of Isis and The Circle of Brigid will offer members of FOI an opportunity to share their gifts in the arts, including music, dance, poetry, painting, and by giving occasional day workshops.
Theatre of Isis & Circle of Brigid activities at the Castle, other than the regular Festivals, will be suspended during June, July and August, when the Castle and grounds, including the Temple, are shown on guided tours.
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Photo courtesy of Olivia Robertson. All rights reserved.