Bloodlines at Antwerp University Hospital

Perhaps the most moving performance of Bloodlines to date: we play to around 180 recipients of stem cell transplants, their loved ones and the medical staff involved in their treatment. The show forms part of Antwerp University Hospital’s 30 year anniversary celebrations of conducting stem cell transplants, so it brought together people who had survived serious disease and we remembered those who hadn’t. Meeting the survivors and medics in the reception that followed was inspiring.  We’re interested that many who have undergone this experience ‘recognised’ their own journeys – often citing what we think of as the most abstracted scenes (particularly a solo dance that employs slow-motion body-popping to convey as state of neutropenia) as the most resonant.

The programme, organised by our collaborating ‘scientist’ Dr Ann van de Velde, sets the performance alongside other ‘patient stories’. Although Bloodlines takes a very different form to these testimonials of disease and survival that are an integral part of patient communities (especially as it is highly abstracted and fictionalised), this is a reminder that the performance can be seen as part of the same tradition.

Presenting the film at a lunch-time ‘Research Club’ event for staff and guests on the previous day is also enlightening. Questions from the floor after the screening focus on our depiction of the patient experience, particularly the character’s isolation. This aspect is probably all the more apparent in the film recording than in the performance itself, but we are struck that medical staff’s attention goes so quickly to the subjective experience rather than our attempts to convey the science.

Milton Mermikides (centre, at table) and Andrew Nasrat (almost out of shot on the right) with reception guest Chantal Pollier.


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