See me, feel me, touch, me...heal me
Saint Ann’s Warehouse is currently located at the beginning of Jay Street in Dumbo. The last event we saw there was an all-female rendering of Julius Caesar set in a women’s prison. The institutional theme plays heavily in the TR Warszawa production of Sarah Kane’s swan song: 4:48 Psychosis a play about a woman dealing with mental illness.
This theater changed me. It is the epitome of theatrical power to express and transform. Magdalena Cielecka is riveting as the tortured protagonist. By the fatal end, I felt as if when she was looking right at me; she was looking right through me. Exposing my fear, my truth, my guilt. I swear we made eye contact. I was the dark figure of her madness. The specter of death itself.
Adapted and directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna, I felt that I not only intimately witnessed the severe condition of a woman struggling to battle her affliction and express it through her art, but I also felt as if I was experiencing psychosis of my own. There were so many immediately identifiable and relate-able nuanced details that struck chords of truth like a dulcimer. By the end, the audience was torn to shreds.
My immediate thoughts jotted into my black berry on the subway trip home: Still stunned. I have seen greatness tonight. The searing truth. The truth kills. The audience is destroyed. The smattering of applause forced. No curtain call. No joy here. No vanity of craft. No need. All needs filled. Speechless. And thoughtless I am. Stunned into muteness...I will be landing in this for a long time. Sarah Kane was an English playwright whose plays deal with themes of redemptive love, sexual desire, pain, physical and psychological torture and death. Her plays feature poetic intensity, pared down language, exploration of theatrical forms and the use of violent stage action. Kane committed suicide in 1999.
"Love me. Touch me. Speak."
Precision. That is how I would describe the quality and skill with which Sarah Kane's 4:48 Psychosis eviscerated me. I came away from this performance with a new empathy for my fellow creatures. If you staged T.S. Elliot’s “Wasteland,” this is how it would look.
"I gassed the Jews. I bombed the Arabs. I raped the children while they begged for mercy." most probably the most horrid speech ever uttered in any language on any stage. And yet all I could feel was beyond profound pity for this miserable being. Profound pity and direct connection to parts of me experiencing the exact same condition. This tortured individual with whom I share so much, if not so intensely and severely, this same madness, is the “other” I recognize in myself.
Despite the final lines of her poem, Kane will never vanish. But this staging goes away on October 26th. In Polish with English super-titles.