Art in its most effective form shares the artist’s perspective on the world — and Elizabeth Mozer has managed to create a play that does just that.
Mozer, a professor in the theatre department, has performed in multiple Broadway shows and has been involved in many other productions as an actor, director, collaborator and creator. In Mozer’s latest production, “The Asylum Project,” she explores the lives of patients in the former Binghamton State Hospital, or the “castle on the hill.”
“What inspired me from the beginning was when I took a tour of the Binghamton State Hospital,” Mozer said. “That ignited the beginning of my search into psychiatric care in New York state from late 19th century to the mid-20th century. I didn’t have any experience with that prior and I’m still learning a lot.”
This is her first full-length show, a feat in itself, but it’s a one-woman show too. Mozer is the director and writer of the play, and the sole performer for the five characters in this production. She shared that getting into the mindset of performing a one-woman show is daunting — especially in a show that explores a topic of such social significance and emotional depth as “The Asylum Project” does.
“I have to have the self-discipline to go to the studio by myself and work,” Mozer said. “The whole process has been like that. It has strengthened me, so I’m really grateful for that. It’s been really challenging, but there are rewards for that.”
Mozer was adamant about wanting this show to resonate with her audiences by creating a conversation about the marginalization of the mentally ill. She found compassion for her characters through her research and expressed a desire to convey this to her audience.
“I’ve always been interested in the stories of people who are marginalized or people who have to fight a little bit harder to get their voices heard or people who have a different way of thinking or seeing the world,” Mozer said. “People who might be misunderstood or oppressed because of their way of being in the world or seeing the world or their own particular needs for expression.”
Mozer is currently working on a new production, titled “Castle on the Hill,” which will use the same plot as “The Asylum Project,” adapted for a full cast and crew.
“There are numerous characters that didn’t make it into ‘The Asylum Project’ that I was very interested in, and some that we wrote but there wasn’t room for it in this play,” Mozer said when asked about the show in the works. “Several other characters that we researched didn’t make it into this play so we have them kind of waiting on the sidelines to be fleshed out and brought into this play.”
These characters, the forgotten patients of the Binghamton State Hospital, seem more real than imagined for Mozer. She has immersed herself in their world, and “The Asylum Project” brings the audience into it with her.
“The Asylum Project” will run in Studio B in the Fine Arts Building on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. Admission is free of charge.