Gina Moxley’s THE PATIENT GLORIA arrives at St. Ann’s Warehouse this month
St. Ann’s Warehouse, in association with Gina Moxley and Pan Pan, presents the American premiere of Moxley’s award-winning punk satire The Patient Gloria, directed by John McIlduff, from November 16 to December 4. Created at the height of #MeToo protest and empowerment, Moxley’s production comes to the United States at a time of grave peril for women’s rights. Moxley uses a hilarious and galvanizing combination of vintage film, theatrical re-enactment, propulsive music and personal reflections to lay bare the deep legacy of sexism in psychotherapy.
At the center of The Patient Gloria is Three Approaches to Psychotherapy (aka The Gloria Films), an influential 1965 series of training films starring Gloria Szymanski, a single mother with a fourth-grade daughter, and three psychotherapy giants. : Carl Rogers, Frederick (Fritz) Perls and Albert Ellis. Szymanski consented to participate in the films on the condition that they be used only for training purposes and in psychology lessons. But they eventually made it to television and cinemas, scattering Gloria’s intimate musings across American culture and discourse. In one notable exchange, for example, recently divorced Gloria recounted the discomfort she felt about lying to her daughter when she asked, “Mom, have you ever gone to bed with someone? ‘one other than dad?
Moxley offers a “feminist analysis of how female sexuality has always been recorded through the male gaze” (The Evening Standard), reversing this tradition by sending the live sessions into films to expose the biases of therapists – all played by Moxley. The production and its all-female cast shine a light on the injustice Szymanski and countless other women have suffered while seeking mental health care. The production combines re-enactment with film footage of 30-year-old chain-smoker and talkative Gloria and Moxley’s account of her own lived experience, having been a woman in Ireland in the 1970s. With The Patient Gloria, Moxley avenges Gloria’s betrayal of privacy and reveals an ingrained legacy of misogyny with candor and biting humor. “Revenge” is hilarious and sweet.
The Patient Gloria features performances by Jane Deasy (the punk rocker), Gina Moxley (the three therapists) and Liv O’Donoghue (Gloria). The creative team includes Liv O’Donoghue (choreographer), Andrew Clancy (set designer), Sarah Bacon (costume designer), Adam Welsh (sound designer), Sinéad Wallace (lighting designer), Conan McIvor (audiovisual designer ) and Emma Coen. (Producer).
The Patient Gloria had its world premiere at the Abbey Theater as part of the Dublin Theater Festival in 2018 and won top honors – the Scotsman Fringe First and Herald Angel Awards – at the Edinburgh Fringe 2019. Fest wrote that it “grabs psychiatry by the balls” and, in four-star reviews, The Guardian described it as “extremely funny” and The Stage called it “cathartic and anarchic”. In a five-star review of the production at the Theater Royal Brighton during this year’s Brighton Festival, The Arts Desk called The Patient Gloria “an electric exploration of the control and manipulation of women”. The Scene, also reviewing production in Brighton, noted its “great soundtrack with live renditions of songs from the Beach Boys, L7 and, of course, Van Morrison [“Gloria”].”
St. Ann’s Warehouse artistic director Susan Feldman said: “When I saw The Patient Gloria in Edinburgh I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in years. There’s joy and outrage in the way Gina deftly mocks and deflects the “male gaze” at other parts of the male body. It’s transgressive, fun, and hilarious. But the current war on women’s bodies and sexuality is very serious. “The series comes at a time when our rights are being brazenly rolled back, with dire consequences. I hope people will come to see The Patient Gloria and appreciate Moxley’s sharp satirical protest in solidarity.”
The Patient Gloria is the next in a season of unprecedented scale for St. Ann’s Warehouse that began with the organization’s co-production of the monumental public art project Little Amal Walks NYC and continues, through 6 November, with Emma Rice and Wise Children’s Wuthering Heights, which Laura Collins-Hughes, in a review of Critics’ Pick for the New York Times, called “wonderful.