The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Students perform “4.48 Psychosis” onstage


Psychosis - Jun Taek Lee

Tonight will mark the opening of the student-run play “4.48 Psychosis.” The avant-garde work explores depression through a series of powerful images, intense moments and thought-provoking dialogues, and was written by British playwright Sarah Kane.
Anna Banker ’15 has worked closely on the play with her ensemble cast of five women, Emma Sinai-Yunker, Cristal Coleman, Quinnita Bellows (all ’15), Ebony Chuukwu ’16 and Sophiyaa Nayar ’17.
“I did a student-run play last semester called ‘Spring Awakening.’ It was a big musical that took place in a larger performance venue and it was [a] much more known show,” Banker said. “This year I wanted to work on a smaller show with an ensemble of all women. It is a dream I had for a while. What you have seen is a collaborative work and part of a very organic process.”
Banker credited Professor Craig Quintero, Theatre and Dance, with giving her the idea for the show, suggesting that the aesthetics of “4.48 Psychosis” had close ties to subjects Banker had explored in the past. The ensemble Banker gathered consists of her close friends, many of whom she has worked with in the past on other productions. Banker said that this production differs because of its informal nature and resemblance to a workshop format.
“It is [a] very open-ended piece. I don’t necessarily think there is one certain idea but certainly the show is about exploring a woman’s mind at the verge of collapse, so it’s about depression and suicide to that extent,” Banker said. “But I think what we are also trying to push at in the show is the idea that depression is one of the psychic consequences of the social order we are living in. So it’s not just pathologized. It’s not just this is a sick woman who is crazy and outside of us. We are trying to say these are women who live in the world around us and are not sick or crazy, necessarily. They are responding in a certain way to all the violence we see every day.”
Although in past productions the play has featured both male and female characters, Banker decided to focus on the effects of depression on women, looking more specifically at gender traumas of the body and what the performance of femininity does to women. Banker said that the avant-garde format of the play, which refuses a traditional narrative structure, helps to convey its difficult subject matter.
“I decided to work on a play with no plot because I think it is a play that challenges audiences to think in feelings, emotions, images that are fragmented and not really coherent,” Banker said. “And it is … similar in experience of being traumatized or being stressed, to be in a headspace where you don’t feel that you could move. And this is what [the] play explores in its form and its content. Basically, its method delivers its message.”
The production will be staged in The Wall, a small theater where the audience is positioned close to the stage. The stage and costumes are simple and the only props used are five chairs. This minimalist aesthetic is a common thread through many of Banker’s productions, which characteristically feature chairs as the only props.
“I like minimalist theater because it really allows us to focus only on performers, what they are doing, what they are saying, how they are moving,” Banker said. “I am most interested to get to the truth of the words in as simple and direct way as possible. That is the reason for [having] no props, no setting.”
Performances will take place in Bucksbaum 154 on Friday Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday Nov. 8 at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday Nov. 9 at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Banker said audience members should come into the performance with open minds.
“People coming to the show should be prepared to go to intense and dark headspace,” she said. “It is not light at all but it is also not that long. Audience members should come in and be ready to experience that in a very open-ended and curious way, like, ‘What journey can I go on tonight?’”
Ed. note: Emma Sinai-Yunker is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of The S&B.

Members of the ensemble cast of “4.48 Psychosis” perform onstage in the Wall Theatre. Photo by Jun Taek Lee
Members of the ensemble cast of “4.48 Psychosis” perform onstage in the Wall Theatre. Photo by Jun Taek Lee
Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *