Dit leest als een roman. (Helaas moet je nu betalen om het artikel te lezen. Dank zij google cache, heb je hier nog pagina’s 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

En hier is de introductie:

A Fall From Grace
A former Broadway actress turned war photographer –and a life unhinged
By Kit R. Roane, USNews 17/05/2004

On a frigid December morning last year, two New York City police officers came upon a 52-year-old woman sitting on the stoop of a brownstone in Manhattan’s tony West Village. She was wearing a leather coat over a blue sweater, gray sweat pants, and two ski hats. She had a cup of coffee in her hand, a sweet Hav-a-Tampa cigarillo in her mouth, and $1.91 in her pocket, all in change. She was surrounded by a bunch of plastic bags containing the vestiges of her life: a few changes of clothes, some cardboard for shelter, and a scrap of donated pizza.

Most important to the woman, however, was the stack of documents she kept in a manila envelope, wrapped in plastic to stave off moisture and stuffed in the front of her pants to protect them from theft. They were her identity, proof that she still mattered. Once she had no such doubts. In an earlier time, Jana Schneider was an award-winning Broadway actress who, in an extraordinary career change, became a daring war photographer. But then she disappeared. When she turned up again late last year, she looked like just another bag lady. Her name, once in lights, meant nothing to the two officers. Whether they feared she might freeze to death or because, as her doctors wrote later, she exhibited “paranoid ideations,” Schneider was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center in lower Manhattan for psychiatric evaluation.

Bellevue is a few miles and a lifetime away from Broadway, where Schneider first experienced the heady taste of fame. The New York Times, describing her 1985 Broadway performance in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, had this to say: “She snarls like a tigress, baring her teeth and raking the air with blood-red talons; she slithers like a snake, lasciviously darting her tongue in and out with reptilian speed.” Playing the half-Ceylonese Helena Landless, Schneider went on to earn a Drama Desk Award and a Tony nomination.

At Bellevue, Schneider was locked up in a psychiatric ward. A sign on the door cautions visitors against taking in sharp metal objects or allowing residents to “elope,” a euphemism for escape. A woman who hated to be hemmed in, who had gone where she wanted when she wanted, Schneider was medicated and placed under constant observation, her nights filled with the screams and rants of other patients.

The tigress of the 1980s seems to have utterly vanished. Now middle-aged, Schneider wears schoolmarm glasses. Frail and soft-spoken, she seems lost in an oversize cotton sweater, her brown hair cut short and straight. Wherever she goes, Schneider carries her personal papers, the jigsaw pieces of her puzzling life. Beauty queen, actress, war photographer, Jana Schneider’s story is simple, in some ways, a sobering arc of hope, ambition, and tragedy. During the course of her journey, she toted her cameras to some of the world’s darkest places, documenting pain, suffering, and death. But now she is in a cruel dark place of her own, the personal hell of mental illness.

(Een tijdje geleden gevonden via Jan-Edward.)