A: Alma de Groen Pf: 1987, Sydney Pb: 1988 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Gurdjieff's Institute, Fontainebleau, France, 1922–3, and hospital, Sydney, 1987 C: 7m, 6f (performed by 4m, 3f)In 1922 Katherine Mansfield, the writer, tells her husband John (‘Jack’) Middleton Murry that she is going to seek a cure for her tuberculosis by visiting Gurdjieff's Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man in Fontainebleau. Russian mystic Gurdjieff, telling Katherine that she has been asleep and does not know who she is, subjects her to a rigorous regime designed to bring her back into harmony with her self and her body. In 1987, Wayne, a hospital cleaner, becomes interested in a male patient who has woken from plastic surgery convinced that he is Katherine Mansfield. Wayne is surprised to learn that there have been male poets. It seems that, after being ‘silenced for centuries’, women have taken their revenge by criminalizing male creativity. If necessary, women can now use the Medusa look, which avenges earlier male exploitation of women by inducing paralysis. While Katherine's physical condition deteriorates, the hospital patient, unable to get any Shakespeare, begs Wayne to bring him writing materials. Katherine loses faith in Gurdjieff, convinced that he is an old lecher who despises women. When Wayne discovers the patient is dying of TB, Dr Rahel, who created him, offers Wayne the choice between letting the Man live an ordinary life or die having written like Katherine Mansfield. Wayne says that he should be allowed to die.
A: Alma de Groen Pf: 1987, Sydney Pb: 1988 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Gurdjieff's Institute, Fontainebleau, France, 1922–3, and hospital, Sydney, 1987 C: 7m, 6f (performed by 4m, 3f)
De Groen's finest play contains two major themes: a futuristic vision in which the suppression of women's creativity by men is reversed, so that men's history is blanked out; and the choice faced by many creative people, that they may lose their artistic talent if they are rendered psychologically normal. The interweaving of the two time periods offers a fascinating framework for these explorations.