4.48 Psychosis – Why “Physical Theater”?

Director Robyne Parrish talks process for 4.48 Psychosis

When Virginia Wall Gruenert approached me with 4.48 Psychosis, I must be honest, I was petrified. I was literally scared of the responsibility of it – of the magnitude of the subject matter – the lack of scene delineation and character breakdown and most of all, the dark place it asked the actors to go. I kind of despised the play in a way because it didn’t tell me what to do. There was no clear path. How would we get to this dark place without losing our minds? Without exhausting ourselves daily, perhaps hourly, on a psychological and spiritual basis? I was afraid of what I didn’t know. It so happened that I had begun

Robyne Parrish -Actor/Director

training at the Double Edge Theatre at around the same time as Psychosis came into my life. Double Edge is an experimental company which creates original theatre through the long-term imaginative work of its ensemble and based on the teachings of Grotowski and his students. DE is nestled in the heart of Ashfield MA on a working farm run by artists. The company is one of a kind in the US and beyond. http://doubleedgetheatre.org/

The physical work or “training” I discovered and experienced at DE for several intensives over the course of more than a year seemed to hold within it the answer to the Sarah Kane mystery. Training was a way to explore the depths of self safely. Through training, we could bring organic physical life from within ourselves to the piece without the suffering that a more intense psychological self examination might require. We could celebrate actor autonomy and find the piece together rather than some quiet corner of my own mind. Off the Wall was already collaborating on a regular basis with dancer/choreographer/movement specialist Ella Mason. After viewing some of her work, I jumped at the chance to bring her on board as our movement guide. My experience with physical theatre was limited to actor training. I knew that with Ella we could reach our fullest potential. Ella and I attended some training at Double Edge together in March 2017, just before rehearsal began for 4.48 Psychosis. The rest is history.

While what you will see on stage is HEAVILY inspired by the training at Double Edge, I should be clear that it is not an example of the DE process, but perhaps only the tiniest beginning part of it, as my training there is limited. DE spends years making beautiful spectacles and full length devised work and we had four weeks. This piece is based in and built with training and inspired by the great artists of Double Edge. In the end however, I am proud to say it is a collaboration and process that grew out of that inspiration that we can call our very own at Off the Wall.

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