FRONTAL LOBOTOMY / Jeu Jeu la Foille

Burlesque poet Jeu Jeu la Foille (Victoria Hancock) explores the 20th Century medical practice of frontal lobotomy in her show of the same name, drawn together with her own thoughts and experiences, and the life and music of Tom Waits.

While Walter Freeman’s operation to sever neural connections in the prefrontal cortex was designed to remove emotions deemed as negative, its impact was observable across the entire emotional range. This broad stroke approach to curing ailments such as depression (and PTSD, schizophrenia, and others), is contrasted with the legacy of Waits, whose fame and career success revolve around his melancholy and unique perspectives.

The show also includes Hancock’s own beat poetry, referencing a literary art form that emerged during the same post-WW2 period that spawned the interest in Freeman’s treatment methods. Rather than altering their mental state through surgery, the Beat Generation preferred experimentation with psychedelic drugs. Tom Waits is regarded by many as the natural successor to the influential Beat movement, and is also known to have bipolar disorder. His self-medicating drug of choice has famously been alcohol.

These various threads mingle with musings on Jeu Jeu's own artistic practice, and facts about the lobotomising procedure and its effects. Together, the material wafts suggestions about coping mechanisms and the value of sadness and dark otherness, in art and in life. (KK)

Frontal Lobotomy is on at 20:45 at Laughing Horse @ Southside Social until August 21st -

On frontal lobotomy:

On Tom Waits:

What is burlesque?:

'Self-medication with mood-changing drugs':

On psychedelic medication:

National Association for Poetry Therapy:

Tom Waits singing 'The Piano Has Been Drinking':