The Hystericon – Toronto Fringe 2013 Press Release

From press release:


Everything you will hear is true: in late 19th century Paris, Augustine, Blanche, and Geneviève are the most famous patients of Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot at the Salpêtrière insane asylum for women. They are his personal lab rats and performance artists, models and test subjects, as he conducts his experiments in “hysteria,” that dark recess of psychiatric medicine. Through the nascent technologies of photography, and the black arts of hypnotism and psychopharmacology, Charcot turns them from troubled women into Hysterics, celebrities of the Belle Epoque:  Augustine the Photogenic, whose pictures adorn Charcot’s publications; Blanche, “The Queen of Hysterics,” star performer in his public lectures; and Geneviève la Pucelle, who talks to God and believes she is possessed by demons – tonight they perform for their audience an hysterical revue, a cabaret, en Comédie en vaudeville, demonstrating the history and pathology of hysteria – but something seems to be going wrong. As lines are dropped and cues missed, the show starts to crumble, and the odyssey takes  turn for the strange…

The Hystericon was inspired by the true life-stories of Augustine, Blanche, and Geneviève, and by the hundreds of black-and-white photographs taken of them by Dr. Charcot and his associates, found in the infamous Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière, the asylum’s annual photo album. Long a subject of fascination for art critics, historians, psychologists, feminists, and the darkly curious, now the first time a stage play is devoted not to the doctors and their experiments, but to the women themselves; their hopes, desires, loves, and fears.

This debut production from Good Old Neon, an avant-garde theatre company from Toronto, is written and directed by company founder Alexander Offord, who was seen featured alongside actress Nicole Wilson in the Fringe 2012 production of A Madhouse Dramedy. It also stars Nicholas Porteous as the malevolent disembodied voice of Charcot (Alumnae Theatre’sWoman of No Importance),  Renée Haché (Aim for the Tangent’s Mature Young Adults) and Lesley Robertson, seen last summer as Julia in Shakespeare in the Ruff’s Two Gents.

The Hystericon is a tribute to a long history of forgotten women, but more than that, it allows for their redemption. The cast represents a new generation of total-actors, who are able to combine classical theatre technique with clown, dance, performance art, and physical theatre to create a work that is at once funny and disturbing, full of darkness as much as love. Whatever else may be said, one thing is certain: you will not have seen a show like The Hystericon before.

Good Old Neon
in association with The Toronto Fringe Festival presents

The Hystericon

written & directed by Alexander Offord

starring Renée HachéNicholas Porteous, Lesley Robertson, & Nicole Wilson

rehearsals stage managed by Nadia Lucie Pacey

Opens  July 5th runs to July 13th

Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace, 16 Ryerson Avenue (Bathurst & Queen)


Friday, July 5th – 3:30PM
Saturday, July 6th – 5:45PM
Sunday, July 7th – 11:00PM
Tuesday, July 9th – 2:45PM
Thursday, July 11th – 5:15PM
Friday, July 12th – 8:00PM
Saturday, July 13th – 8:45PM

Ticket Prices:

At the door – $10/ticket

Advance – $9/ticket (+$2 service fee)


Online: June17th – July 14th: (Visa & Mastercard)

By Phone: June17th-30th, 10am-5pm, July 1st-14th, 10am-6pm: (416 966-1062×1 (Visa & Mastercard)

In Person: July 3rd-14th, 12pm-10pm: Festival Box Office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. W

Photo of Lesley Robertson, Nicole Wilson, Renée Haché by Nicholas Porteous