“One Thinks of it All as a Dream,” a new play focused on Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett, will premiere at the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (SMHAFF) in Glasgow in October.
SMHAFF commissioned the piece from Scottish novelist and playwright Alan Bissett (pictured).
“I … wanted to explore his multi-faceted character. He was by turns charismatic, selfish, principled and vulnerable. The legend of ‘Mad Syd’ has been enshrined in rock lore, but I wanted to get past the acid-casualty cliches to try and find the man beneath, in all his complexity,” says Bissett on the SMHAFF website.
“I took the decision to go backwards and forwards in time, through all the periods of Barrett’s life, to try and gain some understanding of the entwined roots of creativity and mental illness, as well as the various impulses which might have driven him to reject the modern world,” he adds.
The work’s title comes from a Barrett quote included in a 1971 Melody Maker interview.
“There are several characters in the show, but most of them are peripheral ‘journalists’ or ‘fans’,” Bissett tells Floydian Slip. “The three main characters, I suppose you could say, are Syd, Roger Waters and R.D. Laing, the psychiatrist. None of the rest of the Floyd are characters in the show.
“The show is not officially sanctioned in any way, and we haven’t had any contact with Syd’s family,” he adds. “I wouldn’t have written this play while Syd was still alive, but he is a historical figure now, to an extent.”
“One Thinks of it All as a Dream” will premiere at Glasgow’s Oran Mor in October and then move to the Traverse in Edinburgh and the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen.
This year is the 70th anniversary of Barrett’s birth, and 10th anniversary of his death.
Learn more at the SMHAFF website
Addendum: This story was revised Jan. 31 to include additional exclusive quotes from Alan Bissett.