Review: Katie Watkins’ new performance piece, “Schizo,” explores brother’s life with schizophrenia

By Jonathan Frochtzwajg, The Oregonian, August 17, 2015

Katie Watkins performs in "Schizo."

Katie Watkins performs in “Schizo.”

In her new, solo performance piece “Schizo,” which runs through Aug. 29, theater-artist-about-town Katie Watkins explores her brother’s near-lifelong struggle with schizophrenia. Performing on a minimalist set made up mostly of assorted lamps, Watkins, an actor and director with ties to Shaking the Tree, Hand2Mouth Theatre and Portland Playhouse, takes an experimental, interdisciplinary approach to her representation of the disorder that has marked her brother’s life. In one segment, she employs movement to depict the vacillation between needing relief through medication and needing relief from its side effects. In another, she lets the poetry of Anne Sexton speak for her on the subject of suicidal impulses. Voicemail messages, a capella and even Facebook posts complete Watkins’ prismatic portrayal of this multifaceted and often misunderstood condition.

Performances run approximately 35 minutes and are followed some evenings by interactive discussions featuring experts from the mental health field.

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