How does one approach a text as dense, poetic, emotionally charged, and seemingly disjointed as 4.48 Psychosis? There is an energy seething through the text, and it would be very easy to rest on cliche or the first impression of the play. Sure, it is about a person experiencing psychotic episodes, but that feels entirely simplistic. What drives this person to act? What has sparked these experiences and thoughts? Most importantly, how can an actor justify an act which is so inconceivable to anyone not in a suicidal state?
My wonderful collaborator, Liz Whitbred, and I began to meet back in April. We met once or twice a week, simply to read and talk about the play. At times, our sound designer, John Norman joined us as well. The goal of these sessions was to start from a purely academic standpoint, to unearth what exactly is going on in this play. This would enable us to approach it on its own terms, without imposition. It was a tough go at first, with more questions than answers, but as we continued reading, and discussing, questioning and analyzing, the clear story of this individual's experiences came to life, and the narrative of the play became apparent. That isn't to say that I think we've discovered the "Right" way to tell this story, but we have found a way that speaks to us, and that we hope will speak to audiences.
So, since April, we have primarily met sitting down, reading the words of the play, and really allowing the thoughts to inhabit Liz' mind and body. We embark Sunday on creating the physical and choreographed landscape of the play, which we've almost entirely avoided to this point. Our highly academic approach may seem unusual (and counter to what many other directors may do) however in order to make sense of the text, and ensure no imposition, we felt it useful. Once analysis was done, we simply read the script over and over again, and began replacing live voices with those which would be recorded. We tried reading in public spaces and private ones, which really called to light moments in the text where she is crossing a line, and often when she is choosing to do so.
And now, we will create the physical score and add it all together. We have the voices recorded, and the brilliant John Norman is piecing the final audio score together for us while we create the physical score.
More to come as we begin to sew the pieces together!