It's easy to understand why 4:48 Psychosis is sometimes described as a theatrical 70-minute suicide note with no intermission. It is a meditation on mental illness and darkness observed. It's also the last thing playwright Sarah Kane wrote before hanging herself with her own shoelaces in the hospital where she was being treated for depression. It's also the play where Kane, who had been the revered and reviled enfant terrible of the British stage, effortlessly gave away the last bits of theatrical convention she'd held onto. By not providing stage directions or even the number of actors it takes to perform her script, she gave away much of an author's control over the destiny of his or her literary children.
"A lot of people think they're going to see a play about depression and suicide, but I don't think that's what it is," says Brian Fruits, who is mounting Kane's play in conjunction with Voices of the South as part of his MFA directing requirements at the University of Memphis. "I don't want to see that play either," Fruits says, suggesting that the play contains more humor than it's often given credit for and is more about the struggle to get out of a dark place than it is about the darkness.
"We've all been there to some degree or another," he says.
Fruits didn't know how many actors he was using until auditions. He chose 11 performers whose sincerity spoke to him. "We are one body with 11 voices," he says.
"4:48 Psychosis" at Theatre South in First Congregational Church. Monday-Tuesday, December 3rd-4th, 7:30 pm.