In 1992, the English director Peter Brook and the French writer Marie-Hélène Estienne decided to seek inspiration in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by the eminent neurologist Oliver Sacks to create a new performance for their troupe at The Bouffes du Nord Theatre, in Paris. One year later, after an extensive period of research, improvisation and exploration, Brook finally opened The Man Who. Already described as "the most magically effective exploration of the mind (also possibly the soul) ever attempted on the stage," The Man Who will be staged for the first time in Washington DC by Spooky Action Theater Artistic Director Richard Henrich and Associate Director Elena Day.
We all have a brain and we think we know it. But the moment we go inside, we find we are on another planet. In the words of the Persian poem The Conference of the Birds, "this is the valley of astonishment." - Peter Brook
On stage, four actors (David Gaines, Tuyet Thi Pham, Carlos Saldana and Eva Wilhelm) move seamlessly between their roles as both patients and doctors. As in Sacks' book, The Man Who patients suffer from deeply peculiar, sometimes tragic, neurological conditions. The traumas responsible for their conditions are sometimes mentioned, but it is their personal stories that are arresting and compelling. One patient is convinced she is living a continuous dream and plots a desperate strategy to wake herself up. Another patient's memory stopped working 27 years ago, and he now uses humor and imagination to shape an everchanging present unlinked from the past. And of course, there is the man who mistook his wife for a hat, who replaces his loss of visual recognition with a special music to engage each task and reclaim his life.
" 'What is reality?' asks a doctor in The Man Who. Oliver Sacks saw his patients as heroes endowed with great courage and tenacity, moving through realities stunningly altered by neurological quirks. If, like Sacks, we step for a moment into the patients’ shoes, we see our human mind has vast and surprising possibilities," says Henrich. "Conventional reality is simply the starting point in an astonishing universe just waiting for us to explore in The Man Who."
THE MAN WHO
by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne
inspired by The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
Directed by Richard Henrich and Associate Director Elena Day
Featuring David Gaines, Tuyet Thi Pham, Carlos Saldana and Eva Wilhelm
May 11 - June 4, 2017
Thu - Sat @ 8:00 PM
Sun @ 3:00 PM - Running time: 90 min
Tickets $30-40 - Special discounts for students and seniors
Group rates available
Purchase tickets online or at the theater one hour before performances.
For more information, or to purchase by phone call 202-248-0301.
Presented with generous support from DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, The Share Fund,
The Paul M Angell Foundation and The JR & VW Oishei Foundation
Get more information about our shows.