Remission follows the life of Daniel Mark Berkey, a self-described â€œpost-schizophrenic actor,â€ 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 Yorkâ€™s Fringe Festival, displays the open wounds of an open-hearted soul thatâ€™s still trying to find his place in this mixed up world. To be truthful, at times Remission was hard to take in because Iâ€™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 donâ€™t hear; they see things we donâ€™t see. Itâ€™s like their internal thoughts are fighting with the outside world, but they donâ€™t know how to convey that, so they just act out.
In Remission, Danielâ€™s imaginary â€œfriendâ€ Timothy is an ill-mannered buddy that talks shit about Danielâ€™s parents, in addition to telling him that heroin is the cure for his mental illness.
With so much heavy content, Iâ€™m glad that Daniel injected a bit of humor. At one point, he asked the audience: â€œWhy does a drunk actor love to act?â€ To which he answered: â€œBecause he loves the booze.â€
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: Iâ€™ve often heard that each hit of heroin is like the most powerful orgasm.
Nonetheless, as I watched Daniel Berkeyâ€™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 â€œto intentionally make people uncomfortable so that it makes them more aware of this illness.â€
Daniel Berkey earned an MFA in acting from NYUâ€™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/