Writer, director and performer Louise Casemore is adamant conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and addictions are no laughing matter. She does concede, however, that they can be approached with humour if handled carefully.
In 2015, Casemore created and performed in a show called OCD for the Edmonton Fringe. It was awarded Edmonton theatre’s Sterling Award for outstanding new Fringe work and was Theatre Alberta’s pick of the Fringe that year.
Casemore says her goal in creating OCD was always “to bring a light touch to a heavy subject.”
She said she was prompted to create the show when she noticed a growing trend of treating mental illness and addiction far too casually.
“I noticed a T-shirt that defined OCD as Obsessive Christmas Disorder.
“A friend who had battled alcoholism said he was annoyed that people threw the term addiction around so lightly when he understood what it really meant,” recalls Casemore who had battled Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when she was a teenager.
“I wanted everything to be perfect, which produced some tics and compulsions that were pretty annoying for other people. Back then, sitting down to a meal with me could be pretty exasperating. I’d be rearranging everything on the table.”
She also knows people battling OCD who can’t drive a car and can’t sustain a relationship “which is why I was very cautious in creating my show. It needed to respectful and honest.”
Her solo show is based one-third on her personal experiences. Another third was created from extensive research on the disorder, including interviews with doctors, therapists and sufferers.
“The final third is pure fiction and that’s where I could really bring in a comedic touch.”
She says her show is “much more than me just standing on stage speaking a diary. It’s storytelling and performance and it has some poetry in it.”
She also points out, though there is definitely structure to the show, it is loose enough to allow people to react or even interact if they feel the need to and they definitely have.
Casemore jokes that since its premiere at the 2015 Edmonton Fringe Festival, she has toured OCD to “dirtbag bar basements,” cavernous concert halls and everything in between.
“I’ve wanted to bring it to Calgary, but I just haven’t had any breathing room.”
Casemore has been busy as the artistic associate for Ghost River Theatre, as well as the artistic director for her own company, Defiance Theatre.
Ghost River and Defiance will present Casemore in OCD at the West Village Theatre (2007 10th Ave. S.W.) Feb. 1-10 with a pay-what-you-can preview on Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. nightly. There will be a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 3 and an 8 p.m. student performance on Feb. 6 with a talkback following that show.
Tickets are $25 with $20 tickets for artists and $15 tickets for seniors and students.
Tickets and further information are available on ghostrivertheatre.com