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The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland - Shoreditch Town Hall

The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE WORLD premiere production of The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland will visit Shoreditch Town Hall (March 12 to March 15) as part of a national tour (March 5 to March 29, 2014).

Presented by Ridiculusmus, The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Laplandis created by David Woods and Jon Haynes and performed by David Woods, Jon Haynes, Patrizia Paolini and Richard Talbot.

The first of a trilogy of work to be developed over the next five years focusing on mental health, The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland is an investigation of auditory hallucination through the lens of one family’s experience of psychoses.

The audience is immersed in this recreation through an ambitious and innovative split staging arrangement: the action and dialogue from two different sequences of scenes are simultaneously performed to two different groups of audience in the same space.

The work is inspired by the “Open Dialogue” treatment method for psychosis developed by Dr Jaakko Seikkula in Finland, which has virtually eradicated schizophrenia from Western Lapland. It conjures up a comic nightmare of delusion while offering a hopeful world of polyphonic uncertainty, a world where dialogue can transform your life.

Based on the idea that psychosis happens “between people” and not “within”, it focuses treatment on the network of relationships surrounding a person.

Jon Haynes and David Woods of Ridiculusmus have had a long association with mental illness. In the mid-eighties Haynes was sectioned and then treated at the Maudsley Hospital. He came into close contact with a variety of disorders and formed an awareness of the larger culture surrounding the mental health profession. Woods gained a different perspective on mental illness as a carer for members of his own family experiencing flamboyant psychotic episodes.

These experiences have never found direct theatrical expression but they have informed the work they have made together over twenty-one years, such as the 1999 piece Yes, Yes, Yes that took them to psychiatric hospitals in India: the finished work included manic-depressive chants recollected from Jon’s time on the ward.

While researching the work, Haynes and Woods began a discourse with Professor Jaakko Seikkula, on the ability of dialogue to eradicate psychoses before it escalated to chronic levels and came to define the person experiencing them as “Schizophrenic”.

In making the piece, Ridiculusmus are also collaborating with Associate Professors Suresh Sundram and Neil Cole at the Brain Centre, Melbourne, and Dr. Ben Sessa, Dr. Charlotte Burck and Dr. Graham Music. Their expertise covers the areas of systemic therapy, neurological investigation, and genetics as well as current and future drug-based interventions available to patients.

Ridiculusmus has been producing seriously funny theatre for over 20 years. As well as Yes,Yes,Yes, the company’s past productions include The Third Policeman, At Swim-Two-Birds, The Exhibitionists, a two-hander version of The Importance of Being Earnest and Say Nothing.

Tickets: £15, £12 concessions – available by phone on 020 7739 6176 or online at www.shoreditchtownhall.com/.

Time: 7.30pm.

Running Time: 65 minutes.

The tour will also visit the Sick! Festival at The Basement, Brighton (March 5 and 6), Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough (March 19 and 20), The Poly, Falmouth (March 28) and The Village Hall, Grampound (March 29).