Guest Blog: Portraying 'The Woman' in THE YELLOW WALLPAPER at OUT LOUD Theatre
BWW Rhode Island welcomes the four-woman cast of OUT LOUD Theatre's The Yellow Wallpaper to the BroadwayWorld guest blog. The Yellow Wallpaper, directed by Kira Hawkridge, is the second installment in OUT LOUD's fifth season, "That Way Madness Lies." This production presents a fully immersive, four-part experience; each part tells a complete story from beginning to end, but the individual pieces - RITUAL, LIGHT, COLOR, and ESCAPE - provide meditations on Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper as viewed through varying lenses. Siobhan LaPorte-Cauley joins BWW RI to explore "Ritual" in the first part of the guest blog series.
At the start of this process over a year ago, I had never read The Yellow Wallpaper, but I had discussed it on several occasions with Kira [Hawkridge, OUT LOUD Theatre's Artistic Director] as a someday-dream-project for OUT LOUD. When I read the story, it didn't feel like a perspective from 125 years ago. It feels current and stirring and relevant: how clear and urgent the voice is. This woman, a writer, must give up her livelihood and creative fulfillment for prescribed "wellness" under orders from a male doctor -- who is also her husband. Her entire life and all her choices are controlled; she is told how to live and who to be. Her ultimate rebellion against the patriarchy is embracing her "illness"; it is when she accepts this part of herself that she truly leaves her husband's and society's control behind.
This woman seeks help because she feels like there is something wrong in her life, but her prescribed treatments feel just as wrong -- and when she struggles against those treatments, she is told she doesn't understand what's good for her. What better allegory is there for mental health treatment in our society?
We all have people in our lives who take something for anxiety or depression and no one really thinks much of it. There's a pill for depression, a pill for anxiety, a pill for psychosis -- in some cases, that's all the same pill. We treat our brains with chemicals, with little understanding of long-term results. And if you look into what little you can find about those potential long-term results, it will terrify you. I know there are some people who have found great relief in a psycho-pharmaceutical treatment and have taken back their lives as a result. However, my concern is that we turn to chemicals too easily and often pay little mind to whether that cure may be worse that the ailment. We need a greater focus on understanding our personal needs and seeking a personalized solution. If each person's needs are different, how can the same chemicals treat them all?
RITUAL explores that feeling of knowing something is not right and seeking a resolution. We experiment with what is prescribed to work and what actually works, and explore the vast difference between the two. In this dichotomy, we discover that true resolution is not formulaic and easy to mimic; it is dynamic and demanding and brutally personal. There is no right answer for everyone involved. We all must find our own individualized path through the struggle.
OUT LOUD Theatre Presents The Yellow Wallpaper: A 4-Part Immersive Experience: RITUAL | LIGHT | COLOR | ESCAPE from June 22 to July 9 at The Mathewson Street Theater, 134 Mathewson Street Providence, RI.
The Yellow Wallpaper is presented as a four-part series:
THURSDAYS - Part 1: Ritual (Featuring Siobhan LaPorte-Cauley)
FRIDAYS - Part 2: Light (Featuring Ottavia De Luca)
SATURDAYS - Part 3: Color (Featuring Sarah Leach)
SUNDAYS - Part 4: Escape (Featuring Erika Rethorn)
For full details and to purchase tickets, please visit www.outloudtheatre.org.
RITUAL Website Page: http://www.outloudtheatre.org/ritual.html
Siobhan LaPorte-Cauley's Profile Page: http://www.outloudtheatre.org/ensemble-profile-siobhan-laporte-cauley.html
Photography by Piquant Photo | Justine M. Johnson.