Laura Burke


Opens November, 2018


MAD ONES is a new theatrical script written by writer/actor/poet Laura Burke.  Burke was awarded creation and dramaturgy funding from Arts Nova Scotia for the development of a piece under the same name in 2016. After meeting with the facilitators and other artists at Tangled Art + Disability this past spring, Laura decided to reimagine a new story, using most of the same characters as the original script.

This reinvention of MAD ONES is set in the famous Bedlam (Bethlem) Asylum in London in 1825.  It is the story of Guen, a mad woman, and her lover Tsura, who meet on a ship of fools – a place representing the dangerous yet inspired, liminal space of Guen’s mind. This imaginal setting is juxtaposed with the harsh realities of Bedlam, and Guen’s relationship with Dr. Jack Williams, a well-meaning physician whose privilege and training are at odds with his high ideals for the treatment of asylum inmates. The play’s exploration of the origins of Moral Treatment poses many of the same questions psychiatry is faced with today: How can a mad person fully reclaim self-determination and volition if decisions about their reality are made for them? MAD ONES explores the difficult choices that mad folk, particularly mad woman, have faced throughout our lineage of medicalizing anomalous experience. In this play, Guen must choose between accepting help that denies aspects of her agency and autonomy, or a difficult path where her choices and her values remain her own. It is a piece filled with sadness, grit, humour, and hope.


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