Witnessing the Invisible: Representation and Patient-hood in ‘The Father’

Witnessing the Invisible: Representation and Patient-hood in 'The Father'

Ms Sakshi SrivastavaZoom

Florian Zeller’s play The Father (Le Père) depicts the struggles of a dementia ridden mind constantly battling with its own version of temporality and spatiality. Through a strategic structuring of time lapses, interchangeable characters and non-linear plot, it establishes the disorientation of dementia as experienced from the inside where objects, faces and events are gradually and mercilessly erased by the brain. As the protagonist Andre loses his memory and cognition, the audience can sense a forgetfulness about reality. Here Zeller raises critical questions about representation of dementia since such diseases resist conventional representation as the illness experience eludes language. This paper explores the crisis in representation that occurs when the object of representation and the logic behind it no longer hold. Truthful representation from patient’s perspective becomes difficult to achieve because dementia attaches a passive and silent sick role to the patient. Thus the patient requires narrative to challenge this imposition of invisibility and silence upon oneself- a narrative that witnesses the attainment of a voice in the face of uncertainty and loss of bodily and cognitive abilities. Therefore this paper problematizes patient-hood in dementia as a position of invisibility that is attempted to be challenged in this play.

Banaras Hindu University, India
Thu 09:30 - 11:00
Ageing, Narrative
Standard paper