Madness at the Baxter

From left are Vuyisa Jack, Monwabisi Lindi, Lungile Halam, Ebezener Madoda.

Following its acclaimed success at the World Psychiatry International Congress and its once-off staging in December last year, respected psychiatrist Dr Sean Baumann’s rousing cantata Madness: Songs of Hope and Despair, returns to the Baxter Theatre from Thursday February 9 to Sunday February 19.

Baumann’s libretto is brought to life through music composed by Galina Juritz with Dizu Plaatjies, conducted by Chad Hendricks and directed by Lara Foot. Fiona Moodie integrates her own artworks with that of work by patients of Valkenberg Hospital, with video design by Koeka Stander and lighting design by Patrick Curtis.

Mental illness and psychotic experiences are brought into the spotlight using a combination of rousing music (both live and some recorded), song and striking visual imagery in an attempt to portray the complexities and also the wonder of these strange and ultimately unknowable worlds. The project arose from a concern that the plight of the seriously mentally ill is either ignored or profoundly misunderstood, and that this contributes significantly to the suffering of those deemed insane.

The nine-member vocal ensemblecomprisesopranosLinda Nteleza, Palesa Portia Malieloa, altos Nolubabalo Babalwa Mdayi, Fikile Mthetwa, tenors Monwabisi Lindi, Vuyisa Jack and Siphesihle Mdena and basses Lungile Halam and Ebenezer Sawuli Madoda.

The small orchestra is made up of musicians Matthijs van Dijk and Galina Juritz (violins), Sarah Evans/Asra Isaacs (viola), Luke Otto/Robert Jeffery (cello), Graham H Strickland (upright bass), Gene Kierman (French horn) and Zeke Le Grange on saxophone.

Dr Baumann is a senior specialist psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at UCT and a consultant at Valkenberg Hospital, having worked in the domain of psychosis for over 20 years.

The story involves a brilliant young student who moves from rural Eastern Cape to the city to study architecture.

With his mother struggling to provide for him, he perseveres, falls in love and flourishes but shortly after graduating, something changes. He loses all perception and descends into a harrowing state of psychosis, tormented by voices telling him he is mad.

Madness: Songs of Hope and Despair will be staged at the Baxter Theatre for a limited season from Thursday February 9 to Sunday February 19, at 8pm every night and Sunday performances on February 12 and February 19, at 6pm. There is an age restriction of 14. Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Cape Mental Health and Friends of Valkenberg. Tickets cost R150. Booking at Computicket. For discounted corporate, schools or block-bookings, charities or fundraisers, contact Sharon at 021 680 3962 or sharon.ward@uct.ac.za or Carmen at 021 680 3993 or carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za