The Glasgow Miracle:

Materials for Alternative Histories

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Sri Chinmoy Blythswood Square 1973

Sri Chinmoy, a Bengali and American spiritual teacher who advocated meditation, chanting mantras and prayers, performing dedicated service to God as a way to personal enlightenment. He had many followers in Scotland and on the international stage, his disciples included John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana. McLaughlin knew Tom McGrath and their shared interest in both Sri Chinmoy and jazz would have inspired not just the concept of Third Eye but the programming of Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Duke Ellington in the run up to the opening of the arts centre. In this tape he makes a visit to Blythswood Square and watches a performance of his ‘God’ play with Tom McGrath playing the role of God.

Date Recorded: 1973

Length: 33 min, 03 sec

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Additional Information

Performance set-up and Staged play. Begins in blackout with tracking issues. Film cuts to darkened room, a man (Chinmoy) on an elevated platform is the centre of focus. Track lighting dimly lights a room modestly decorated with a wooden square-panel design. Two children and a woman join Chinmoy to pose for the camera, and the man behind the camera laughs. Cuts to static noise for 10 seconds, the sounds of what might be a staged play can be heard. (Accidental overlay of staged play footage?) The film cuts back to Chinmoy, another man and woman join the group of people surrounding Chinmoy for posing purposes. Discussion amongst the group ensues as the camera continues rolling. At 3 min, 29 sec, there is a cut to static, then a shot of children and a woman in front of a makeshift wooden wall plastered with signage. Chinmoy is seated amongst a small audience in the background. At 4 min, 23 sec, there is another tracking wave to blackout, the sounds of performance. At 4 min, 32 sec, another tracking wave reveals a zoomed in shot of a performance. A zoom out shows a young Scottish man in dialogue with another man on a small, well-lit, L-shaped stage. This is the panelled room from earlier in the footage. As the play progresses, a series of characters, male and female, are introduced, utilising a space marked off by what appears to be organic material on the floor. The camera pans and zooms to follow the action occurring within the performance space. The audience is seated to the left of the camera, taking up half of the box-like panelled room. It becomes apparent that the stationary camera is positioned behind a makeshift stage wall, out of view from the audience. The remainder of performers reside offstage and are visible to the camera's right. The play includes themes of spiritualism, employing music, chant and song as interstitial material. The faint sound of a marching band can be heard throughout the performance, background noise that may be emanating from the building's exteriors. With every change of scene, the film cuts. With each resume, the picture becomes increasingly difficult to watch, the fade ups from blackout becoming distorted, longer, more prone to white balance and tracking issues. Ends with a silent meditative prayer led by Chinmoy. The camera is focused on his standing profile, removed from the audience and cast members (also in prayer). The marching band music continues faintly in the background as the image of Chinmoy freezes, the sound waves out, tracking lines overtake the frozen image, and the footage cuts.