You are invited to an early draft reading and talk back discussion of a play in development entitled Mad Ones. Laura was awarded creation and dramaturgy funding from Arts Nova Scotia and Eastern Front Theatre’s Pitch It event for the development of a piece under the same name in 2016. However, after having the privilege of meeting with the facilitators and other artists at Tangled Arts + Disability this past spring as part of their FLOURISHING series, Laura decided to reimagine a new story, using most of the same characters from the original script.
This reinvention of Mad Ones is set in the infamous Bedlam (Bethlem) Asylum in London in 1825. It is the story of Guen, a mad woman, and her lover Tsura, who meet on a ship of fools – a place representing the dangerous yet inspired, liminal space of Guen’s mind. This imaginal setting is juxtaposed with the harsh realities of Bedlam, and Guen’s relationship with Dr. Jack Williams, a well-meaning physician whose privilege and training are at odds with his high ideals for the treatment of asylum inmates. The play’s exploration of the origins of Moral Treatment poses many of the same questions psychiatry is faced with today, such as: How can a mad person fully reclaim self-determination and volition if decisions about their reality are made for them? Mad Ones explores the difficult choices that mad folk – particularly mad women – have faced throughout our lineage of medicalizing anomalous experience. In this play, Guen must choose between accepting help that denies aspects of her agency and autonomy, or a difficult path where her choices and her values remain her own.
Mad Ones is an early draft of a play in development, and Laura would like to thank Tangled Arts + Disability, Arts Nova Scotia for contributing their support and inspiration in the early days of its creation and presentation. Also a sincere thank you to the Playwright’s Atlantic Resource Centre for making this reading possible. There will be a content warning for reference to violence, descriptions of sexual assault and suicidality, miscarriage, and difficult subject matter. Laura will do her best to tell this story truthfully and yet responsibly.
*FLOURISHING is a collaboration between Tangled Arts + Disability and The Canadian Association for Community Living Research and Development on Inclusion and Society (IRIS), Adjacent Possibilities, and the inspired and inspiring disability scholar and artist Catherine Frazee. The goal is to explore the concept of flourishing as it exists alongside frailty, disability and suffering. As part of this parternship, Tangled Art Gallery is producing a series featuring 7 artists from across Canada from September to December.
This presentation is at an accessible venue with scripts for those who need them.