Franz into April


Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1977).

After the war I did a degree course, at Manchester University, in psychology.  We studied Freud, Jung and Adler.

   We respected Adler, the professional clinician, (he introduced the introvert/extrovert classification) but I was never convinced by Freud - nor did I become a Jung groupie.  Years later I discovered Fritz Perls and when director Frank Hatherley asked me for a television play, I decided to write about him.

        Fritz Perls was a medical doctor from Vienna who specialized in psychiatry.  A student of Freud, he left Austria in the Thirties, escaping the Holocaust, and settled in South Africa, and then Australia.  From there he went to New York where he practised until he was forced out by colleagues for refusing to do lobotomies.  He went to California and helped to change things.

     His basic premise was tough love.  He explored with those who came to Esalen (his institute) the challenges involved in growing up.  He believed in an existentialist do-it-yourself life, and refused to be a guru.  He was a messy eater, groped girls and was as politically incorrect as you could hope for.  Here was a psychiatrist who was not inflated, minatory, exploitative or nuts.  He made sense.

        On returning from abroad, I was told that the TV production had been cancelled because it was felt that the script was too rude for the general public.

       Frank Hatherley, our director, decided to produce it as a stage-play.  It opened at the ICA starring Warren Mitchell as Franz.  The compassion, humour and insight he brought to the role had people in tears - sometimes with laughter.

    We received a rapturous response from critics and public alike.  Warren suggested expanding the text.

         The expanded version is the one printed here.  This has not, as yet, been performed.

                                                                                                                                   Pam Gems