Since 2013 “seriously funny” theatre specialists Jon Haynes and David Woods of Ridiculusmus have turned their attention to bio-medical science, creating performances which explore innovative therapeutic approaches to mental health. Their new show Give Me Your Love looks at the healing potential of altered states of consciousness and the use of psychedelic drugs, in particular MDMA (ecstasy), for patients traumatised by combat stress.
Based on real-life testimonies of war veterans and groundbreaking medical research, Give Me Your Love is funny, fragile and profound. It tells the story of ex-soldier Zach who has withdrawn into a cardboard box in a kitchen in West Wales. His friend Ieuan arrives offering recovery – in the form of a capsule containing 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine with which he claims to have successfully treated his own post-traumatic stress.
Parachuted into their recently fractured pasts, Zach and Ieuan swing between dreamboat heroism and woozy enlightenment while engaging in disorderly conversation about patriotism, conflict and supermarket shopping.
During the development of Give Me Your Love, Ridiculusmus talked to cutting edge researchers in the US about their work on trauma therapy using MDMA. They also spoke to veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Falklands as well American soldiers who had undergone the treatment.
Give Me Your Love is the second show in a trilogy which began with The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland exploring the Open Dialogue approach to psychosis.
Ridiculusmus – Jon Haynes and David Woods – is an award-winning theatre company that has established an international reputation for being both serious and funny. Since 1992, Ridiculusmus has created over 25 original productions which have toured around the world from the Barbican in London to a village hall in Malawi. The “serious comedy” they practise is an organised chaos underpinned by decades of painstaking research that has taken them from psychiatric hospitals in India to groundbreaking schizophrenia workshops in Lapland. They were awarded doctorates in Drama Practice as Research by the University of Kent in 2006. Publications include Tough time, nice time (2007), Total Football (2011) and The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland (2014), all with Oberon Books. www.ridiculusmus.com
Research and development for Give Me Your Love took place at the National Theatre Studio, London and Arts House, Melbourne. The MDMA research has been co-ordinated by Ridiculusmus’ scientific collaborator Dr. Ben Sessa with Professor Michael Mithoefer, medical monitor for clinical trials in the US and Brad Burge from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies who arranged interviews for the company with US war veterans.
Dr Ben Sessa is a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist who has published in medical journals on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics and has campaigned to see these substances return to the mainstream pharmacopeia. In 2008 he became a Research Associate under Professor David Nutt at Bristol University where he consulted on MDMA for the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and worked on a human hallucinogen study, becoming the first person in the UK in 33 years to legally administer a classical psychedelic drug. He now leads the UK’s first MDMA Psychotherapy study at the University of Cardiff. http://www.drsessa.com
Give Me Your Love is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England; the Wellcome Trust; Royal Victoria Hall Foundation; Battersea Arts Centre; the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts; Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne University and the City of Melbourne through Arts House and its Culture Lab programme.
Give Me Your Love
Tuesday 12th to Saturday 30th January (no shows on Sundays) at 7.30pm
Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, London SW11 5TN
Price: £15, £12 concessions
Running time: approx. 60 mins
Tickets on sale from 4 November
Tickets: £15/£12 concessions
Post-show discussion Stress, Distress and Disorder on 20th January, 2016; chaired by Dr Ben Sessa with a panel of Prof. Peter Kinderman, Anne Cooke and Lee Hayward from Save Our Soldier, Jon Haynes and David Woods.