At the prime of his career as the president of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Dresden, Germany, Dr. Daniel Paul Schreber (1842-1911)was forcibly admitted to a mental institute, following a series of psychotic episodes. As part of his battle to prove his stability and to liberate himself, Schreber wrote an autobiography, Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, in which he describes the details of his hospitalization, as well as the new theological-political order that was allegedly revealed to him during that period.
According to Schreber, whose story became one of the most studied cases in the history of psychology, an encounter with god led him to realize that he alone is capable of redeeming humanity from its misery, after perceiving a connection between body and mind and between the individual body and the political one.
Schreber’s autobiography served him as a central statement of defense in his appeal against his forced admission, in which he presented his practical method to replace the old, false values that govern the world, and to bring redemption through bodily experience.
“The physical radicalism does not represent a liberation from conventions, but rather the systemizing of a perverse intellectual structure based on coercion, which paves the way to a grave totalitarian view on men and society.”
Shai Bar Yaacov, Yediot Acharonot, October 2016
- Writing and Directing | Ran Bechor
- Performance/Creation | Samira Saraya, Moti Rozentsvige, Ygal Tsur
- Boys | Nir Shenhav, Itamar Koren
- Dramaturgy | Nataly Zukerman
- Stage design | Tal Ariel Arbiv
- Lighting design: Rotem Elroy
- Music editing | Itamar Gross
- Voice | Assaf Harel
- Video filming | Asaf Sudry || Video editing | Ofir Sharon
- Production and stage management | Liza Staroselsky
- Production assistant | Tomer Koppel
Winner of ‘Best Performance Award’, Acco Theatre Festival 2016
“An unsettling, intelligent and challenging piece, dealing with physical and social disciplining, the tyranny of society, the elimination of compassion, and the totalitarianism of the artistic creation.”
The theatrical adaptation of Dr. Schreber’s story focuses on the complex relationship, inherent in his case, between the physical experience and the theoretical, moral and political potentiality.
The multiplicity of Schreber’s identity – a defendant, an imprisoned patient, a victim, but also an intellectual, a political thinker and a spiritual prophet – is manifested in a series of performative modes and situations, that challenge the performers’ physical and emotional boundaries.
The theatre turns into a courthouse and the stage into a clinical lab, in which extreme shifts occur between a powerful didactic and intellectual presence, and an opposite position, that of a body reduced to its basic instincts, tortured and humiliated. The tension between the positions is explored, through performative tools, as a main dramaturgical key in the piece.
The performance dissects schreber’s story into its components, serves them to the spectators as findings, and invites us to consider how they play a role in our personal, social and political existence.
“The five performers present an uncompromising quality of performance”
Zvi Goren, Habama, October 2016