An Exercise in Satire and Pain
By Zekria Ibrahimi
Key Themes: screenplay, emotion, relationships, spirituality
Zekria Ibrahimi (born in 1959) is defined by his schizophrenia. It first hit him long ago, in his late teens. He is fifty years old now, almost a pensioner, and he does not always want to remember how, as an adolescent in the late 1970's, he suddenly became afraid of everything surrounding him, and, worst of all, of himself. He would run around the countryside and knock at the doors of strangers because he feared the apocalypse was pursuing him ... He would pick up rubbish outside in alleys and streets and hoard it in his not very palatial lodgings ... He was always wandering away from home, searching for ... what would never be found again ... the straight route, the level way ... He was a tramp, freezing during the nights in public toilets where he had various unsavoury insects as company on the cold concrete …
There were years of pain when his schizophrenia became almost his only companion- albeit a sadistic one, punishing him even as he hugged it. Perhaps, to echo both R. D. Laing and Emily Dickinson, it is the entire globe, it is general society, that is truly insane. Schizophrenics simply burrow all too deeply under the surface. They reach the very core of the savage reality in us all. Most varnish over the anarchic truth within through the superficial sham paraded as 'civilization'. Schizophrenics prefer to be uncomfortably honest barbarians.
Eventually, after much psychotic shouting on Hammersmith Broadway, the hapless Zekria was confined at the Charing Cross unit in the West London Mental Health Trust. Following the unsafe unstable freedom of his schizophrenia, came the restrictions of Section 3. He would not have survived without the multi- racial compassion of the individual doctors and nurses in Charing Cross. Yet the overall SYSTEM remains an ogre of rules and restraints, and the INSTITUTION of psychiatry can be as cold and vicious as in the days of lobotomy and insulin shock.
Now he is elderly, but still he muses about being locked up, drugged up, about how, with schizophrenia, the treatment can be worse than the disease ...
MADNESS AND REBELLION- A TRIPTYCH is an inevitably bleak and savage essay on schizophrenia that could not have been commenced without the research materials provided at the Coombs Library, West London Mental Health Trust, Southall, and the Institut Francais Mediatheque, Kensington. And it would not have been completed lacking the computer and editing expertise of Jenny and Joseph Hemmings, operating from their distant literary den in Norfolk!
About the Author
This is a journey into schizophrenia,
Into the core and heart of it,
And the aim is that ….
The reader should never find his way out again ….
It is a book as a trap,
For you who call yourselves sane,
Perhaps need to be caught in the necessary snare that is madness …
This uneasy play starts with a confrontation between Joan and her voices, her so- called 'angels'. Do they stem from insanity, and not inspiration? Subsequently, the piece, with a jerking unhappiness, contains an argument between her and her uncomprehending father. He cannot understand why she should abandon him for the sake of the Hundred Years' War and all its miseries. She then leaves her father and the farm and heads to the castle of Captain Baudricourt- who, perhaps with an element of snide jest, gives her an escort to go to the Dauphin.
She arrives, bedraggled, at the Dauphin’s court at Chinon. The Dauphin is a depressed and depressing monster. The Dauphin, himself basically unstable and selfish, decides, albeit recklessly, to give Joan a military role in the siege of Orleans. Her protagonist there is the Duke of Bedford, who represents the worst characteristics of medieval pomp and bigotry.
This is a play having two -plots, not always easy to reconcile with each other. One plot is semi- conventional, rather political, about England as a colonizing octopus oppressing France. Joan then appears to be an anti- imperialist freedom fighter (to cling to that cliché). The second plot involves Joan as a psychiatric patient, victimized by the establishment as a schizophrenic. She personifies both rebellion and madness. She could be compared to the French Resistance fighter, Berty Albrecht, who, after absconding from the Vinatier, a mental hospital, was captured by the Gestapo and resorted to suicide in the prison at Fresnes.
These two plots- political and psychiatric- are interwoven in these characters: Cauchon, both bishop and psychiatrist; and the thuggish English soldiers who double up as psychiatric nurses.
Joan is betrayed. The masculine politics of the medieval world will ultimately not tolerate a female revolutionary such as Joan. The French monarchy and aristocracy, as much as the cruel English invaders must have ultimately regarded- even feared- her as a messianic embarrassment.
The play’s grim climax is the duel between Joan- God’s rebel- and the bishop/ psychiatrist, Cauchon, misusing God as an authoritarian entity against whatever freedom may be. Cauchon is ghoulishly cheered on by the psychiatric nurses/ English soldiers as he eventually resolves to incinerate Joan on a pyre of all- devouring psychiatric medication.
In the eerie, creepy manner of Ovid's Metamorpheses, Cauchon is eventually transformed through the play, bit by bit, into a pig while he oversees Joan’s destruction. For all power is ultimately swine- like- dirty, greedy, opposed to any genuine decency, inevitably murderous and a rival against the concept of God.
This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 31 October, 2006.