In a post over the summer, and another recently, Sean and I have given you a glimpse of the physical environment for Freud’s Last Session, which is now in the middle of the second week of rehearsal, directed by Skip Greer. During a break last week, I snapped a few shots of some of the artifacts that will litter the stage – quite literally – when the play opens on Oct. 20.
Freud had a lifelong obsession with religion and religious artifacts – maybe a bit surprising for an atheist, but perhaps less surprising from the author of The Interpretation of Dreams. According to one of Freud’s patients, being surrounded by the thousands of religious artifacts in Freud’s study created “a feeling of sacred peace and quiet…Everything here contributed to one’s feeling of leaving the haste of modern life behind, of being sheltered from one’s daily cares.” Freud himself compared the process of archaeology to psychoanalysis, saying “the psychoanalysis, like the archaeologist, must uncover layer after layer of the patient’s psyche, before coming to the deepest, most valuable treasures.” The artifacts that Freud collected were not mere objects – he cared for them deeply enough to travel with them, and to surround them with very strict rules.
Whatever Freud’s intentions were for his collection, the artifacts have created quite a challenge for Geva’s props shop – one that they have not backed down from in the slightest! I want to share with you some of the artifacts that have been slowly making their appearances in the rehearsal room.
Here, in the middle of the picture on the left, you’ll see an image of a Female Figure, presented as an offering to Ishtar, a super-goddess in Syria. Ishtar was the personification of the planet Venus, in charge of love, storms, fertility and war. And on the right is the image that our props artisans were working from.
And here, the head of Osiris from Freud’s office. Below, the head of Osiris, as created by the props shop, surrounded by other “antiquities” on Freud’s desk.
Did the shop hop on a plane, travel to London, Vienna or some remote location to find Freud’s collection or replicas of it? Of course not – but thanks to the magic of theatre, anything is possible. Some of these objects were purchased or were already in our prop storage, but the majority of them have been created out of a high density foam in some cases, and out of everyday vases and figurines in others. Some of them are old G.I. Joe action figures, some of them have been pulled from plaster nativity sets. But they’ve all been given their antique appearance through the addition of clay, paint and other additions. Check out the collection as of last week – and see if you can guess which one used to wear green army fatigues…
To read more about Freud’s collection, I recommend this fantastic catalogue from an exhibit of the collection at the Monash University Museum of Art and the University of Sydney. Or, take a look at the Freud Museum website.