For two weeks this November as part of the Secret Cinema’s rendition of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I played the role of a physician instructing her students in the fine art of the transorbital lobotomy.
The London-based Secret Cinema creates homages to classic films: they take over abandoned buildings (in this case, a disused hospital) and recreate the set, with actors playing the roles, art installations celebrating the plot, live bands, bars and food. Punters spend two hours scrambling around the space getting sauced and getting in the spirit, before sitting down to watch the film.
My side project Guerilla Science, which brings scientific events into cultural spaces, hosted the Experimental Ward: psychiatric assessments, electroconvulsive treatments, and lobotomy lectures. Read more on our website in two extensive posts I wrote about the history and theory behind electroconvulsive therapy and the transorbital lobotomy – Neural Renovation and a kind of Surgery for the Soul, one could say.
Taking our place alongside bona fide actors and artists, we try to bring content with real historical and scientific meaning into what is essentially a theatrical performance. We think we don’t do too badly – our performances with OFOTCN saw us broadcast on Russian television. Not bad.
Truth be told, the whole experience made me lose my marbles just a little bit. Thinking about invasive and debilitating brain surgery inside an unheated building surrounded by dozens of actors playing mental patients can do that to a girl.