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Remission at Performance Space 122

Remission follows the life of Daniel Mark Berkey, a self-described “post-schizophrenic actor,” who in his 51-years has battled three bouts of the worst kind of addictions: sex, heroin, and alcohol.

As part of the 7th Annual soloNOVA Arts Festival – the one-man show, which also premiered last year at New York’s Fringe Festival, displays the open wounds of an open-hearted soul that’s still trying to find his place in this mixed up world. To be truthful, at times Remission was hard to take in because I’ve since learned (through Google Health) that not only is schizophrenia a mental disorder, but it essentially renders a person incapable of normal social interactions. They hear things that we don’t hear; they see things we don’t see. It’s like their internal thoughts are fighting with the outside world, but they don’t know how to convey that, so they just act out.

In Remission, Daniel’s imaginary “friend” Timothy is an ill-mannered buddy that talks shit about Daniel’s parents, in addition to telling him that heroin is the cure for his mental illness.

With so much heavy content, I’m glad that Daniel injected a bit of humor. At one point, he asked the audience: “Why does a drunk actor love to act?” To which he answered: “Because he loves the booze.”

On the other hand, one of the addiction scenes that was rather profound: Daniel putting a large syringe to the nether-region of a blow-up doll on a chair, as he laid spread eagle on the floor in a sort of trembling state, to emphasize the orgasmic feeling of shooting up. The wildness in that picture: I’ve often heard that each hit of heroin is like the most powerful orgasm.

Nonetheless, as I watched Daniel Berkey’s story unfold, I thought to myself that his former life had to be sheer torture. So during the 15-minute Q&A at the end, I asked him why he decided to bare so much of himself. His answer: something along the lines of “to intentionally make people uncomfortable so that it makes them more aware of this illness.”

Daniel Berkey earned an MFA in acting from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He lives in Manhattan.

Though Remission has closed, the soloNOVA Arts Festival has been extended through June 6, 2010 at Performance Space 122 in the East Village. For more info: http://www.terranovacollective.org/

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About ND McCray

ND McCray is a former Brooklynite, now St. Louis-based writer, penning pieces on arts, culture and other stuff.
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