The Cornerstones of Humanness

Freud's Last Session is a witty conversation between scholar C.S. Lewis and Dr. Sigmund Freud, based at the beginning of WWII. Both men, known for their intellect and differing life philosophies, are remembered as groundbreaking in how they view humans and life's purpose. In the Omaha Community Playhouse production, Bernie Clark and Nick Zadina pair up to bring these two men to life in order to engage the audience in thought-provoking discussions about truth.

Freud and Lewis were both men that focused on how people became who they became to be. However, the two had drastically different takes on how that happened. Dr. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was a neurologist, known as the father of psychoanalysis. His studying led him to groundbreaking theories on dreams, sexuality and consciousness. Through his work on the mind, Freud came to believe that religious dogma (among other things) repressed people, pointing to the cause of many forms of neurosis.
Bernie Clark as Sigmund Freud and Nick Zadina as C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) was a scholar of many things (poet, medievalist, literary critic, theologian, etc.) but came to fame as an author, especially on the subject of Christianity. Initially a religious skeptic, his explanation of Christianity and later conversion has led to him being called "The Apostle of the Skeptics." Science and spirituality can often compete when trying to explain how we are who we are. Freud's Last Session will definitely be a lively and interesting mash between these schools of thought and the men that innovated them.

Clark and Zadina, playing Freud and Lewis, also have their own views on life and the theories of these two scholars. Responding to famous sayings of both men, Clark and Zadina give insight into their personal and cultural understandings of Freud and Lewis.

Bernie Clark as Sigmund Freud
Love and work are the cornerstones of humanness. -Freud
Clark: His life perfectly illustrates the truth of this statement. In his late teens, he met Marta and, as it says in the script, "we fell deeply in love." In 1886, at 20 years of age, they were married. Freud's last book, Moses and Monotheism, was published in 1939, just months before his death. He obviously worked to the end of his life. He loved his work and delighted in controversy.

Experience, the most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn. -Lewis
Zadina: I certainly think this quote is true. Lewis suffered many personal trials and tribulations in his life. The death of his mother when he was very young, his father then falling apart after his mother's death, and the loss of his wife when he was much older. I once had a very wise friend tell me that it is always better to tell somebody, "I can't imagine what that must feel like" as opposed to "I know how you feel." None of us truly knows how the other feels. We can attempt to come to a better understanding, but none of us knows how others truly experience the world.

He does not believe that does not live according to his belief. -Freud
Clark: Freud was an atheist. His entire life was devoted to freeing his patients from the repressions he was convinced religious dogma created. Many may question his beliefs, but few can question his devotion to them.

Nick Zadina as C.S. Lewis
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. -Lewis
Zadina: I love this quote as well. The confident person is comfortable attempting to understand other perspectives because they can separate them self from the need to always be right. The arrogant person refuses to be wrong and therefore cannot see two inches past their nose.

Men are more moral than they think and far more immoral than they can imagine. -Freud
Clark: Nineteenth century transcendentalists dismissed the concept of "original sin"; to them, "man was born innocent." Transcendentalists believed social dogma corrupted this innocence. I think Freud, given his view of religion, may have concurred with the transcendentalists. He witnessed the horrors of WWI and nearly lost his beloved daughter Anna to the Nazis. He clearly saw man's conscious and unconscious mind corrupted by (religious?) dogma.

You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream. -Lewis
Zadina: I have always thought that in old age if anybody were to ask me what the best day of my life was, I would say tomorrow. Because who's to say that it won't be!

The Omaha Community Playhouse's performance of Freud's Last Session is running Oct. 18-Nov. 17, 2013; Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $35 for adults and $21 for students. To purchase tickets, or for more information, call (402) 553-0800, visit the Box Office, click here or check out our Facebook page.

Story by Shannon Kern

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