The Importance of Sylvia Plath

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Last month, I was lucky enough to observe Becoming Esther, at Brighton Fringe; a forty five minute production, concerning the life of Sylvia Plath. It was pure brilliance-crafted from gestures, verses, just between two actors. It reminded me, however, why Plath is still important, in terms of mental health.

Nowadays, we think of Plath in terms of her Depression; the image of ‘a grey, bleak depressive port.’ Somebody who committed suicide. Becoming Esther reminded me that it’s wrong to put somebody into a ‘typecast box’, despite teenage years ostensibly being about conforming. (That was never something I was good at or successful in doing!) Sylvia-as on stage, and as in Pain, Parties, Work by Elizabeth Winder-was someone so FULL of life. And still the image remains so vivid it seems to me almost palpable. Tangible, even.

The poetess was a young, ambitious women; she loved Cape Cod, language, and so many other things.

If you ever read the book, it describes the ‘before’; a typical girl from Massachusetts, with lashings of lipstick, and with language cackling at her fingertips. She was like us, really. But it was her Depression that marked her out in this public conscience. I’m not saying that this condition isn’t serious, or underestimating the severity. Or the need for treatment. Plath is still important, for the VERY reason she did not ‘fit’; no-one should have to be out in a box. And as a teen with Aspergers Sydrome-a form of high functioning Autism-I’ve had to deal with this time and time again. I dislike every typecast image: ‘Aspergics’ being unempatheic; ‘Depressives’ as selfish people; ‘Dyslexics’ ostensibly being NOT clever.

There’s a beauty in this; we could collaborate past these so-called ‘impairments’.

Becoming Esther is a brilliant production, with the possibility of touring; if you get the chance to see it, I highly recommend. I think that you should all see it.

Currently I’m reading: Dreaming In French By Alice Kaplan. And I’m listening to: Resurrection by Anastacia.