Innovative mainstage production explores brain injury through the arts

Pictured above: An upcoming performance from Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts will explore mild traumatic brain injuries through an artistic lens, communicating symptoms of concussion through physical theatre and character mask.

An upcoming production from Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) is shedding light on the experiences of individuals impacted by mild traumatic brain injuries.

The Mysterious Mind of Molly McGillicuddy, written and directed by DART Instructor Mike Griffin, uses non-verbal storytelling to create a visceral and imaginative performance.

Opening Thursday, Feb. 15 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre, the story follows its title character as her ordinary life is transformed after experiencing a concussion, sending her on a tumultuous journey back to health.

The production communicates the symptoms caused by brain injuries through physical theatre, movement and the use of character mask to convey the many struggles and obstacles facing those affected.

For those who suffer with mild brain trauma, symptoms can often be invisible and therefore difficult for others to comprehend, Griffin said.

“This production aims to stage the invisible; to heighten the symptoms, physiology and experiences of someone struggling from a concussion,” he said. “We hope this show will raise awareness of the serious impact that concussions can have on one’s life — physically, socially and emotionally.”

Prioritizing accessibility for all audience members, the production run will include a sensory-reduced experience known as a “relaxed performance” on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. The relaxed performance is intended to welcome audience members who struggle with sensory stimulation by reducing flashing lights, loud noises and providing a quiet room where a livestream of the performance can be viewed on a screen.

Additionally, the Saturday night performance will also be livestreamed for those who might need to watch the performance in the controlled environment of their own homes.

Complementing the mainstage is the Molly Gallery, a response to the play by DART student and visual artist Rebecca Cowan, displayed in the second-floor hallway at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre for audience members to take in during or after the event.

As we created a show that staged the experience of a brain injury through heightened theatrical methods, we were aware that things like bright lights and a crowded environment were not ideal for those affected. This provides folks an opportunity to come and view artwork inspired by the production at their leisure,” Griffin said.

To spark further conversation about the interdisciplinary nature of brain injuries, DART will host a public research colloquium, Brain Injury and the Arts, on Friday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. The event will bring together performing artists and panellists, including faculty members from Brock’s Faculties of Applied Health Sciences and Social Sciences, as well as representatives from the Ontario Brain Injury Association and Active Life Rehab+ Concussion Management Clinic.

The Mysterious Mind of Molly McGillicuddy opens Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.

Performances will also take place Thursday, Feb. 15 at 11:30 a.m. (student preview matinee), Friday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. (relaxed performance) and 7:30 p.m.

General admission tickets are available for $20 and tickets for students and seniors are available for $16. Visit the Dramatic Arts event website to reserve tickets.