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When, in 1969, the National Geographic photojournalist Loren McIntyre landed in the upper Amazon amid the Mayoruna, he had traveled, he thought, “a psychological distance of 20,000 years.”* Shrinking that distance became essential to his survival. Once his shoes were burned and his camera destroyed, he came to understand that the archival drive behind photography and documentation is…fear. Learning to embody language by silent transmission, McIntyre was able to communicate with his hosts and disconnect from “time” as it had always been defined for him—eventually, if temporarily, finding his way into an alternative time-mind continuum. (The Mayoruna—a nomadic tribe that lives in an eternal now by shedding its possessions at every juncture—represented a kind of freedom alien to McIntyre’s American sensibility.)

“He knew the moment was wonderful. He also knew it was unrepeatable.” — Simon McBurney on Loren McIntyre’s first encounter with the Mayoruna, in The Encounter

In THE ENCOUNTER, Simon McBurney and the Complicite theater company take us on an immersive but not formally interactive time-mind shift of our own (headphones included). McBurney is a multi-track tour de force in multiple roles (McIntyre, tribesmen, narrator), and his performance takes hold with hallucinatory effect. We are deep in the jungle with the Mayoruna and McIntyre, who loses himself and finds someone else. (He returned to South America two years later and discovered a source of the Amazon, a small lake in Peru now called Laguna McIntyre.)
McBurney’s text is based on Petru Popescu’s book on McIntyre, Amazon Beaming.* THE ENCOUNTER is co-directed by McBurney and Kirsty Housley. The superlative sound design is by Gareth Fry and Pete Malkin.
THE ENCOUNTER, through April 16.

Tuesday through Saturday at 8 pm; Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm.

THE WALLIS, 9390 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills


Simon McBurney in The Encounter Photograph by Rob Latour

Simon McBurney in The Encounter
Photograph by Rob Latour

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