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Recovering Sabina

Recovering Sabina

While the #MeToo Movement has had its share of successes and failures, there are few that can discount the importance of the movement. In it remains a sense of optimism, helping women share stories – sometimes about themselves, sometimes about others.

This is the intersection where Stolen Theatre Collective’s Sabina’s Splendid Brain lives. Sabina’s Splendid Brain is a play written by Nova Scotian Carol Sinclair, directed by Director and Brock Associate Theatre Professor Gyllian Raby and performed by Brock Assistant Theatre Professor and co-founder of Stolen Theatre Collective’s Danielle Wilson and cellist Grace Sinppe. The play navigates through the interesctions of gender, identity and psychology throughout history.

Sabina’s Splendid Brain recounts the triangle that Sabina Spielrein lived in. Following the death of her sister Emilia, Sphielrein suffered from hysteria and was admitted to the Burgholzli mental hospital where she met a young Carl Jung and subsequently fell in love with. Upon her release she applied to medical school and began her ascent to become one of the first female psychoanalysts.

“She was 19 when she was admitted and she was only 24 when she graduated as a doctor. In that period she got to know both Jung and Sigmund Freud,” explained Raby.

“She was presenting papers for Freud’s psychoanalytic society in Vienna which is just unheard of for women her age to a) be a medical doctor in 1912 and b) to be presenting papers in an academic circle where she was the only woman. Those are the years that the play zeros in on and there’s that triangle that it seeks to explain.”

Sabina’s Splendid Brain was first work-shopped for the Luce Irigaray International Circle, an International Conference on the philosophy of Luce Irigaray at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts this past June. Since then, Raby, Wilson and Snippe have been developing the production for a run this September.

After reading through the play, they realized how dense with information it was – as it is a historical recounting of a woman who’s past was essentially erased. Changes were made to tell the story visually and musically to make it a sensory experience rather than a history lesson, which was one of the main challenges the trio had approaching this production.

The other challenge they faced was making sure that the production didn’t come across as a “angry feminist play”.

“There are so many scientists and writers that have been buried in history, or just cheated in some way,” said Raby. “This story isn’t about this. It offers a lot of hope and optimish. It’s a really insightful and beautiful story.”

Sabina’s Splendid Brain runs from September 14-23 in the Theatre at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. Tickets are available at

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