Premièred at the RADA Festival Gielgud Theatre, 28th and 30th June 2017
In 1928, Jean Cocteau – already a legend of French cultural life and friend to Proust, Picasso, Stravinsky, Man Ray and Lee Miller among others – checked himself into a clinic in order to be cured of an uncontrollable addiction to opium. At the same time, in another room of the clinic, his lover Jean Desbordes was being treated for the same addiction. During that time, Cocteau kept a diary of his nightmarish cure, together with a series of revealing and unsettling drawings.
Opium: A Diary of His Cure (1930) is an unflinching record of the hair-raising recovery from his addiction to opium, with all its attendant creative possibilities and profound dangers, its disturbing physical and mental side-effects and its unnerving tampering with the unconscious. The artist experiences a dissociation between the mind, jumping between ecstatic memories of the drug, obsessions and fragmented revelations as it searches for resolution and relief, and the body, which embarks on its own tormented and humiliating path.
It is his account and these drawings that have been the basis of our work. The music in the piece has been inspired by a composition entitles ‘Vexations’ by another friend of Cocteau’s, Erik Satie.
OUR PRODUCTION IS HUMBLY DEDICATED TO LINDSAY KEMP
Theatre Alive! would like to thank Mark Tweed for construction, Warwick Evans for transport, Nick Gurney for the portrait photo of Jeff Lewis featured on our poster and the Technical Support Team for the RADA Festival in the Gielgud Theatre:
Production Manager: Emily Melville-Brown
Stage Manager: Danni Haylett
Deputy Stage Manager: Jo Nead
Sound Designer: Jacob Moore
Lighting Designer/Op: Elicia Martin
Lighting Designer: Daniel Smith
Sound Operator: David Purdie-Smith
Technical Manager: Christopher Petrinovic
Director:(Devised by) Andrew Visnevski
Music composed and arranged by: Joss A. T. Smith
Music performed by: Shir Victoria Levy
Lighting Design by: Daniel Smith
Production Photos: Henry Kenyon henrykenyonphotography.com
Jeff Lewis and Simon Stache