Andrea Yates, a former resident of Houston, Texas who drowned her five children in their bathtub in 2001, was the inspiration behind Talia Pura’s play “Demons of the Mind.” Yates had suffered from severe postpartum depression.
“It’s a very visual, thoughtful piece but not depressing,” explains Pura, who presents the two-actor play at Warehouse 21 from April 18 through 28. “The play explores what a woman in the throes of postpartum depression is going through.
“She is strongly influenced by her rigid fundamentalist religion but doesn’t have the support she needs.”
Pura became fascinated with how Yates could have suffered such significant depression and psychosis that she could murder her own children. A mother of three who said she never had any baby blues, Pura did lots of research about the case before writing the play in 2008.
“I performed it in Winnipeg (Canada) a decade ago but haven’t presented it since then,” says Pura, who won a cash award for “Demons of the Mind” in Bottle Tree Productions’ 2009 playwriting competition.
Pura set the play in Texas during the time when George W. Bush was president. In the opening scene, the main character Marie, played by Pura, is in jail shortly after having killed five of her six children. Her lawyer, played by Equity actor Brent Black, tries to understand her and mount a defense for her trial. New to the Santa Fe theater scene, Black recently moved to New Mexico from New York City where he appeared on Broadway in “Mamma Mia!”
“The audience is seeing into Marie’s mind,” says Pura. “My aerial dance on silks and hoop is metaphorically interwoven with Marie’s state of mind.”
Throughout the play, which contains monologues, dialogues and quite a bit of movement, Pura explores the relationship between psychosis and religion. She also suggests that Marie’s actions were a tragedy more than a crime.
Pura’s husband, composer William Pura, wrote an original musical score for the play.