Lyndsey Turner after Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Jonathon Lyle (59)
Director of Photography:
Schaubuhne Berlin, February 15th 2013
A new mother travels from Berlin to the countryside with her baby, her husband and her nanny. She is suffering from post-natal depression, and has been persuaded to relocate to a remote villa for the good of her health. Installed in the attic room, with its natural daylight and fresh air, the woman sets about recovering her strength. But the room itself is strange: the windows are barred and the wallpaper is a sickly shade of yellow. Soon, the woman begins to see images in the wallpaper. As she becomes increasingly fascinated by them, her health continues to decline. The woman convinces herself that there is a figure trapped in the pattern: a figure she must set about freeing. Written in 1892 by the American author Charlotte Perkins Gilman, »The Yellow Wallpaper« depicts the fate of a woman who does not meet the expectations which society imposes on her in her role as wife and mother. What begins as an attempt to give her peace and calm soon becomes a nightmare of delusion and unrest. Rediscovered in the 1970s by the women’s movement, the text is now seen as a masterpiece of feminist literature. British director Katie Mitchell reinterprets Gilman’s story as a study of post-natal depression, creating a live film work which speaks to our times.
‘In its technical allusions to thriller and noir, genres with which the piece thematically shares a number of features – the creepy house, the scent of mystery, the escalating urgency – the overwhelming presence of film amplifies this sense of unease. Anna tears frantically at the wallpaper, a camera pressed close while the intensified sound of scratching floods the auditorium, we might be trapped inside a psychological horror movie.
In addition to the live film being recorded and projected throughout, bookending the production are two pre-recorded film segments, self-consciously styled as home videos. This juxtaposition makes more visible the concern with representation that persists throughout, implicitly asking how we perceive ourselves and how we choose to present ourselves to others, particularly in the context of a mediatised modern culture.’
background image courtesy of Clarabellafaire @*DyingBeautyStock