North Central stages dark drama '4.48 Psychosis'

By Nancy Dunker
North Central College
Posted3/26/2014 1:17 PM

The drama "4.48 Psychosis" by late British playwright Sarah Kane will feature North Central College student actors exploring the issue of clinical depression.

Four performances will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, April 24 to 26, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 27, in North Central College's theater at Meiley-Swallow Hall, 31 S. Ellsworth St., Naperville.

Carin Silkaitis, assistant professor of theater at North Central College, will direct her rendition of Kane's most personal piece. For years, Kane suffered from severe clinical depression. "4.48 Psychosis" was her final play before her suicide.

"This play is about one woman's struggle with severe clinical depression and it doesn't claim to be any more than that," said Silkaitis, who adds that the audience can learn from Kane's raw, honest portrayal of her struggles. "There are important, relevant themes for our times in '4.48 Psychosis.'"

The themes focus on decisions about taking or not taking medication as treatment for depression, the effects and effectiveness of medication, suicide and self-harm, relationships and loneliness.

In addition, Silkaitis chose to stage the play because she feels the word "depressed" has been watered down.

"It's become a catchall phrase when we don't feel fabulous," says Silkaitis, who thinks we need to revisit the conversation on depression, a disease.

Depression affects some 120 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

Kane's play provides significant artistic leeway to the director. It's written without specific stage directions, characters or setting, including how many actors to use and how to divide up parts within the play. Silkaitis plans to study character development with her student actors and work with them on getting in and out of very dark characters.

"It's always a huge challenge for actors to go to a place as dark as this," she said. "It's also a challenge to learn to get out of character, and I want to use this play to work with some techniques for doing that.

"The language in this play is incredible, with some of the most beautiful, tragic, image-filled words I have ever read," Silkaitis said.

"4.48 Psychosis" is not for young viewers and could be a trigger for individuals who suffer from depression, she warns. Because of strong language and adult themes, no one younger than 16 will be admitted.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and senior citizens. Call the North Central College Box Office at (630) 637-7469 or visit