When the problems of the world get too much to handle, there’s nothing wrong in looking for help. And sometimes, one of the best ways to help yourself is through psychotherapy.
Remedy is a devised performance that takes us behind the closed doors of a therapy session, to explore issues surrounding mental health and universal themes such as the complexities of human emotions, and how we cope with everyday life.
According to the play’s directors, the genesis of the play came from a discussion with a psychologist Dr Chua Sook Ning of Relate Therapy, who wanted to raise awareness about mental health.
“We wanted to go for a ‘normalisation’ kind of approach. Instead of talking about specific issues like depression or bipolar disorder, we wanted to do a day-to-day approach. As what Dr Chua said, sometimes people can’t cope with life, and you don’t need a huge trauma to feel the burdens of living,” says director Jeremy Ooi.
“We tried to dig out, again with Dr Chua’s help, a lot of common themes, like loneliness, rejection, purpose in life. We tried to make connections between these, to try to relate to as many people as possible,” says Alexis Wong, assistant director.
Remedy features the talents of Amanda Ang, Sandee Chew, Arief Hamizan, Alfred Loh, Esther Liew, and Nabil Zakaria. The young cast are in their 20s and 30s. It is presented by EJA Productions, in partnership with Relate Therapy, and supported by Theatresauce.
The Petaling Jaya-based EJA Productions has done two theatre shows so far (Lungs and The Betrayal).
The show will be performed at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) in Petaling Jaya, starting March 15.
The Remedy tells the story of Michael (Loh), an auditor who visits a therapist (Liew) to help deal with the many unresolved issues in his life. It runs for about 50 minutes: the average amount of time of a therapy session in real life.
The directors stress that Remedy is not advocating therapy as a cure for all problems. Rather, that it is a viable option, whenever, anyone has trouble coping with anything.
“I think therapy is about finding yourself, and the therapist will help you get there. A common misconception is people think that the therapist will ‘fix you’, and that’s not true. A therapist is more to help you understand things better, and let you approach things in a healthier way,” explains Ooi.
To prepare themselves for the stage, all the cast of Remedy underwent therapy sessions of their own.
“I loved it. It’s something I had considered for a long time, but because of the stigma people have agaisnt therapy, I refused to do it, even though there was no reason for me not to go. So for me to actually go ... it was like holding your breath for too long, and now being able to breathe freely,” says actor Arief.
“What I appreciated most was the voice of the psychiatrist, which had no judgment at all. When she asked if you were doing something, there were no connotations, it was straight up fact. And that was very refreshing,” says Ang.
The show will also feature a Q&A session with Dr Chua after the performance on March 16.
“I hope this can help remove the stigma and prejudice that people have against therapy,” says Nabil.
“For me, I hope this can serve as an opening of a conversation. That it’s okay to talk about these things, that it’s okay to ask questions or enquire about therapy,” assures Chew.
“It’s okay to talk about your problems. It’s okay not to have everything set out. Life isn’t only about money and intellect, or going on holidays and ticking off a bucket list. It’s also about your emotional wellness,” concludes Wong.
Remedy is on at Black Box, DPAC, H-01, Empire Damansara, Jalan PJU 8/8, Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya in Selangor, March 15-19. For more information, call 03-4065 0001/002 or visit www.dpac.com.my.
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