IN Two Minds dives into the dynamic of a mother-daughter relationship. It is a personal, creative, funny, and uplifting rollercoaster of emotions. From the stellar writer Joanne Ryan, who won the Lustrum Award, In Two Minds is brought to life by talented director Sarah Jane Scaife (you might know her from ‘Beckett sa Chreig: Laethanta Sona’).
An adult child and her mother under the same roof. Pom Boyd (‘The Dry’) and Karen McCartney (‘A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings’) team up for this delicate piece that tackles mental health, love, and our shared humanity.
Produced by Fishamble: The New Play Company, ‘In Two Minds’ is all about finding wisdom in the darkest moments, laughter in the pain, and tenderness in those messy family dynamics.
Joanne Ryan had a chat with Limerick Post this week.
Joanna’s previous work Eggsistentialism won the Lustrum Award for Best Festival Moment at Edinburgh Fringe. It premiered in Dublin Fringe in 2016 and has since toured extensively with sell-out runs in London, Liverpool, Cyprus, Malaysia and Australia.
In Two Minds was inspired first and foremost by Joanne’s mum, Gloria and her experience of bipolar disorder.
“My mother had bipolar disorder and she got a late diagnosis. She was 65 when we realised this and she was working with me on my first show Eggsistentialism.”
Gloria plays a part in Eggsistentialism through audio recordings made with Joanne.
“She’s hilarious, you know, sort of paying the Irish mammy but also she was there because I was looking at her experience of getting pregnant with me in the 1970s as an unmarried mother versus me trying to make a decision of whether or not to have a kid in 2016.
“So in the course of making that show, I interviewed her for hours and hours. And one day, I was interviewing her and she asked me when I had finished the show, would I consider making another show about bipolar disorder?
“She had the experience of a late diagnosis. So she had the experience of telling lots of people at the same time. She was looking for representations of bipolar disorder since she got her diagnosis but wasn’t really able to see anything that kind of resonated with her. And she thought it would be useful.
“She was an extremely brave and open woman.”
Bipolar Disorder has a very broad spectrum of conditions, symptoms and experiences. Gloria’s condition was characterised by depression.
“She would have these long, crippling depressions for weeks and months and years and they were treatment resistant, and there was no relief and really, often kind of hellscape for a lot of the time.
“So then when she got her diagnosis of bipolar disorder, she was really excited because she was like, Oh, now maybe there’s a chance of treatment that will work and also, it made a lot of sense in her life.
“And she would have these highs, these wonderful highs as well which after so much depression was amazing.
“Now I know that isn’t going to be everyone’s experience with bipolar disorder. So many dread the highs because they can become dangerous.
“But in our experience, she was happy and loved singing and dancing and up for anything and extremely funny and she’s a very funny woman anyway.
“We just tried to sort of enjoy those times as well.”
Taking a lifetime of these experiences to inform a fictional piece of theatre involved a lot of editing and decision making.
“The challenge, I suppose, when you’re making a piece of theatre is to decide what to include and what not to, you know, but I absolutely didn’t want to shy away from the challenging times.
“The characters are not myself and my mother, it’s a fictitious play, but it’s inspired by and instigated by her.
And after a few years of developing the play, In Two Minds played to an audience for the first time in Waterford last week. For Joanne, what was that like to experience?
“It was my first time watching a show with an audience. In my last show, Eggsistentialism, I performed it and I was on stage.”
In Two Minds was a “wild experience, very tense but I have a lot of playwright friends and they had me well briefed.”
Ultimately, what do you think folks will take away with them after watching In Two Minds?
“I hope what people take away from this is the love between the mother and the daughter. It’s about the deep bond between mother and daughter and how they navigate the challenges of the condition and overcome it together in love.
In Two Minds is produced by Fishamble, the Olivier Award winning theatre company who “develop and produce new plays of national importance with a global reach.”
“They have 35 years of experience of making work at this scale. They assembled the most amazing design team, the design and show is just phenomenal.”