"A Lie of the Mind" 2018

9 Oct 2018 - 16:15

Like many of Shepard’s plays, A Lie of the Mind centers on the relationship between manhood and America and the illusions that bind national and gender identity. And like many of the other plays, this drama conveys a pronounced sympathy with the dilemmas of women. Shepard creates richly drawn female protagonists—women who are complex agents of cultural history as well as victims of forces that hold them in check. The moral distribution of responsibility for violence falls more heavily on men, although women are not simply passive observers of their fate.

Two versions of hell shape the intersecting fates of men and women in this lonely landscape. A suffocating domestic sphere tended by women anchors men who also perpetually escape its influence. The men hunt, but they do not like meat. The socialized violence of hunting, bound in earlier eras to modes of subsistence, now gives way to the mere pleasure of the hunt. Men hit the road but the road to the bigger highway is risky. Lorraine warns her fleeing son Jake that he, much like his dad, may find himself “busted open on the road.” Caught between the call of the wild and the pull back to the maternal fold, men wander uneasily in search of a place of mooring. Women wander off as well but into an interior world of fantasy and absentmindedness…

The play would have us recognize that there are both real and imagined pasts that we must mourn… as men and women both overly bound to limited spheres of attachments in the nuclear family, with its ideal of the self-sufficient dyad as its core fantasy. And it warns of the unbounded terrain that lies outside of the stifling sanctuary of the nuclear family. The play also acknowledges ambivalence through its characters: a woman who still loves a man who is trying to kill her, a man who wants to return to the fold of his mama while also breaking free of her, a father who loves the objects that represent people—the American flag—more than the people themselves. And I think the play invites us to acknowledge the power men still hold (over women and other men) and to mourn and relinquish old ways of life…

In the current political fog in America and as reactionaries call for revival of the old patriarchal order, we need all of the resources we can gather to find a path forward…


Directed by Geoffrey Hyland

10 - 13 October 2018, 19h30, The Little Theatre

Bookings through little.theatre@uct.ac.za or ctdps.bookings@uct.ac.za