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Freud’s Last Session examines age-old questions during a hopeless time

Tuesday 01st, July 2014 / 10:32
By Jennie Orton
A rehearsal session for Freud's Last Session, playing at the Rosebud Theatre. Photo: Kelsey Krogman

A rehearsal session for Freud’s Last Session, playing at the Rosebud Theatre this summer.
Photo: Kelsey Krogman

CALGARY — It’s often a popular party game to imagine fictional conversations between long-dead heroes about the mysteries of the world. My personal request would be to have Jim Morrison and Ernest Hemingway irritate each other about the way the world ebbs and flows. The idea of it keeps me up nights.

Freud’s Last Session is one such conversation. A fictional account of a conversation between a very ailing Sigmund Freud and a young upstart and newly Christianized C.S. Lewis, who satirized Freud in his book The Pilgrim’s Regress.

The play becomes a discussion about belief and hope, which actor Nathan Schmidt believes is a timeless human thought that will translate well to a wide audience.

“We’re driven by hope,” he says. “Once we don’t have hope, that’s a terrible place for people to be.”

Given that the play is set a week before Freud’s suicide and on the eve of the day WWII came to England, one can see how the idea of hope could be centre stage.

“The author has really put it on that one day and said, ‘Look, the whole world is on the knife’s edge, Freud is on the knife’s edge,’” Schmidt muses. “A lot of the arguments centre around Hitler and the taking by force and human nature not evolving, so the human race is surrounded by a darkness: something threatening to take away their hope, which mirrors what Freud is going through.”

As the conversation becomes one about the age-old idea of God’s existence, Schmidt recognizes that it is up to the actors and director to make sure the play doesn’t become talking heads.

“The argument about whether there is or isn’t a God will be around as long as we are. To have these two well-known characters discuss it, I think it’s going to be pretty electric.”

Freud’s Last Session runs at Rosebud Theatre from July 2 – August 23 at the BMO Studio Stage. Rosebud is a hamlet in Wheatland County on Highway 840, about an hour’s drive northeast of Calgary.

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