The play that would like to alter the way we treat psychological sickness

The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland

David Woods and Richard Talbot rehearsing The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland by Ridiculusmus. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

Can theatre supply a cure for psychosis? It is unlikely – and it would be unwise for any theatre-maker even to try. What theatre can do, however, is convey the experience of psychosis: the hallucinations and delusions – often terrifying, occasionally comical – that define reality for individuals with schizophrenia and related situations.

This, at least, is the belief shared by David Woods and Jon Haynes, co-founders of the theatre company Ridiculusmus. Their new display, The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland, examines the results of psychosis on numerous members of a fictional family, utilizing an progressive conceit. The audience is split in two, with every single half sitting on both side of a dividing wall. For the 1st act, every single half of the audience watches a single scene, while one more scene is performed on the other side. Later, the audiences swap spots and in the last area, the wall gets to be transparent, so that each halves of the audience are watching the identical scene.

The impact, at least at first, is bewildering – and that is the point. “It truly is as if you happen to be obtaining auditory hallucinations,” Woods tells me when we meet during rehearsals at the Basement in Brighton, where the perform is starting a national tour. “Initially it’ll be overwhelming, chaotic. Then the audience will go out of the theatre, modify sides. Slowly the voices will settle into area. In a way, it really is the identical with schizophrenia. You do not get cured, but you can recover.”

The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland in rehearsal: Richard Talbot, David Woods, Jon Haynes and Patrizia Paolini Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

Woods and Haynes know far more about schizophrenia and psychosis than most. Haynes was sectioned in the mid-80s, and invested six months as a patient in London’s Maudsley Hospital Woods was a carer for several household members with psychological well being difficulties. It was this that first drew them in direction of generating a show about psychological sickness: a series of early improvisations on the topic of family members (the company devise all their perform by way of improvisation and extensive analysis) threw up recollections from their very own pasts.

They contacted the Tavistock clinic in London, where they took part in a workshop on youngster carers for grownups with psychological overall health troubles. It was there that they 1st learned about “open dialogue”: a revolutionary approach to the therapy of psychosis that has, in excess of the previous couple of decades, almost eradicated the condition in Western Lapland, the region of Finland the place it originated.

Intrigued, Woods and Haynes travelled to the Keropudas hospital in Tornio, Finland, where Dr Jaakko Seikkula first evolved the strategy – and had been so struck by what they discovered that they decided to make open dialogue the essential subject of their present. “I imagined: ‘Wow, this is great,’” Haynes explains. “I can think about that if we would had this kind of approach [in the Uk] years in the past, things may possibly have been very various for me. When I was sick, I bear in mind feeling extremely considerably that I was the problem. With open dialogue, that is not at all how the patient feels.”

Open dialogue is, as the name suggests, a therapy primarily based on talking rather than medicating, and on intervening as early as feasible in a psychotic episode. Households are straight involved in the patient’s therapy, with the aim of identifying the skewed dynamics, or other sources of emotional tension, that may have brought on the patient’s crisis. “The thought,” Seikkula tells me more than Skype, “is to organise the psychiatric method in a way that helps make it attainable to meet immediately in a crisis, and function extremely intensively together with the family members.”

The statistics on open dialogue are startling: in accordance to a 2003 study performed at Keropudas hospital, 82% of patients who have been provided open-dialogue therapy had no, or mild, psychotic signs after five many years, in contrast to 50% in a comparison group. The method has attracted international interest – in 2011, Seikkula helped identified the Institute for Dialogic Practice in Massachusetts, to get open dialogue to the US. But it still stays far from the mainstream in numerous nations, such as the Uk.

The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland in rehearsal: Jon Haynes, Patrizia Paolini, Davi The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland in rehearsal: Jon Haynes, Patrizia Paolini, David Woods and Richard Talbot. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland has open dialogue as an underlying theme, inherent in the notion of an audience listening to a family’s expertise of psychosis, a lot as a psychiatrist may do for the duration of an open-dialogue session. Every scene starts with a group of disembodied voices describing the concepts of the strategy, and the psychiatrist character in the perform mentions the truth that a colleague in the NHS has been struck off for making use of open dialogue in the place of anti-psychotic medicine.

Haynes and Woods’ crucial aims are to raise awareness of open dialogue, and to dispel the wider stigma surrounding schizophrenia. “I would hope,” Woods says, “that men and women who see the demonstrate would start listening: talking to each and every other rather than just barging their way by means of lifestyle. And that they would realise that there is a great deal more to schizophrenia than just the small minority who go out and stab someone with a knife.”

Seikkula, also, believes that a piece of theatre such as this has a effective position to perform in expressing what he, and other practitioners of open dialogue, consider the fundamental definition of psychosis. “Psychosis belongs to existence,” he says. “In my thoughts, we can all have hallucinations. If we are in a demanding ample situation, each of us can react in that way. This play gives people a really concrete expertise of how that genuinely is.”

The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland is touring the United kingdom. See for total information.

For far more info on Open Dialogue, see

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