Bloodlines at Royal Central School of Speech & Drama

Bloodlines will be presented on Jan. 7th at 6:00pm at the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, followed by a post-show discussion.

Bloodlines is a performance based on the creators own experiences of being treated for a life-threatening disease. Through sound, digital media and dance, the performance traces the microscopic drama that plays out between Leukaemia and medical treatment in the human body.  It draws on composer Milton Mermikides’ experience of Leukaemia and his treatment through a bone marrow transplant donated by his sister, Alex Mermikides (director), exploring both the subjective experience and science of the disease.

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Bloodlines emerges as the practice as research strand of the Chimera Network, exploring collaborative and compositional strategies of science-engaged performance. It has been performed at the Science Museum London and the Rose Theatre Kingston. More information at Bloodlines.

Following the performance there will be a post-show discussion with the creators, composer Milton Mermikides and director Alex Mermikides.

To book free tickets please register on the event’s Eventbrite page.

See more at: http://cssd.ac.uk/events/research-events/bloodlines-practice-research-performance-and-seminar

splice symposium

The splice symposium, which took place on the 15th and 16th November, celebrated and debated encounters between performance, music, science and medicine.  We celebrated by giving the floor to the creators of art and research projects involving at least two of these disciplines. Presenters included: * Nicola Triscott, Director of the Arts Catalyst – one of the UK’s most innovative supported of science-art collaborations.  *Gilles Joubin, the renown choreographer who has just completed a residency at CERN; *Alex Kelly from Third Angel who performed the company’s latest show 600 People – its first showing to Dr Simon Goodwin, the astrophysicist who inspired it *

One of the many debates touched on that inevitable question, of what’s in it for the scientists? Dr David Berman (Reader in Physics) claimed that collaborating with artists may be valuable to scientists, but not in progressing scientific research.  At least a couple of the presentations contested this point: Microbiologist Dr Simon Park’s shared projects with artists on bioluminescent bacteria had produced peer reviewed journals; Prof Tony Myatt showed how shared research between sound artists and oceanographers aboard the MS Dardanella had led to new discoveries about whale and fish communities. Several of projects presented had a clear social value: Prof Nicola Shaughnessy’s Imagining Autism uses participatory theatre to make marked improvements in imagination, communication and empathy in children with a diagnosis of autism; Dr Brian Lobel’s Fun with Cancer Patients, a series of actions by teenagers with cancer, developed new understandings for medical practitioners as well as patients; Suzy Willson’s Performing Medicine had a clear benefit for medical students.  That said, participants also resisted this ‘instrumental’ basis of evaluating science-art collaboration: do we need to justify these collaborations in terms of their research or ‘impact’ value?

We’ll be posting podcasts and documents of the Symposium soon.

 

Bloodlines at the Rose Theatre

We present Bloodlines at the Rose Theatre in Kingston as part of the Practice Research Unit based at Kingston University (what we’ve been researching through our practice are collaborative and composition strategies that might be employed the creation of science-engaged interdisciplinary performance).   The performance seems to go down well. In the post-show discussion composer Milton Mermikides and director Alex Mermikides take questions on the autobiographical basis of the project, Dr Bex Law talks about how the project draws on her medical training and experience and the choreographers-dancers (Caroline Lofthouse, Adam Kirkham and Viv Rocha) describe different approaches to the biomedical data. Film of the post-show available on request (A.Mermikides@kingston.ac.uk) Bloodlines-flyer

The Splice Symposium announced

Announcing the Splice Symposium, a 2-day event which will map the current ‘scientific turn’ in performance and music practice and show-case artworks and projects created through collaborations between scientists and performance and music artists.  Presented in collaboration with the University of Notre Dame’s London Centre, the event takes place on the 15th and 16th November.  For further details, call for presentations and booking information, visit Splice.eu

Speakers include: Nicola Triscott (Arts Catalyst), Jenny Paton (the Wellcome Trust), Dr Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (Oxford University/author of Science on Stage), Melanie Wilson (sound/performance artist), Brian Lobel (performer), Suzy Wilson (the Clod Ensemble/Performing Medicine), Prof David Berman (physicist/Flow Motion) and more.

Bloodlines at the Science Museum

We perform  Bloodlines at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre, London, to a full house that includes medical scientists and practitioners (from Hammersmith, St Georges and Kings College Hospitals among others), patient groups and former patients and donors, representatives of the Anthony Nolan Trust and the general public. Audience response is positive, and some thought-provoking questions are posed at the post-show discussion.

Edited by Anna Tanczos

Bloodlines: dance workshop

Chimera’s first event for practitioners took the form of a four-day dance workshop in June, which explored and developed choreographic material in response to set areas of biomedical science. The participants met with medical practitioners and patients from Hammersmith Hospital and Kingston University/St George’s Hospital to learn about stem cell transplant and blood cancers.  This piece was choreographed by Corinne Jola. The dancers are Adam Kirkham and Jan Lee.

Thanks to Moving Arts Base for the use of their studio and to Trayan Velev for filming.

A special audience

Haematopoiesis by Anna Tanczos

Haematopoiesis by Anna Tanczos

We present the bloodlines project at the Patients and Family Day of the European Blood and Marrow Transplant Group annual conference (a major conference that attracts international medical practitioners and researchers engaged with BMT). We’re presenting to a very special audience:  people who have had or who are about to undergo bone marrow transplant, so people who have faced or are facing very serious diseases. We come at the end of a long day of lectures, billed as the ‘musical entertainment’, so I’m nervous about presenting another lecture (Milton and then me talking about the project), followed by yet another lecture (the performance itself opens as a lecture on haematopoiesis).  The conference has overrun by an hour and we’re down to an audience of about 150 but it seems to go well. There is a moment in the performance where the lecturer is interrupted by a bleeper call about a sick patient who has just come in, and this takes on a particular resonance in the room.

What does a cell sound like?

Ann, Alex and Milton in rehearsal (March 2013) Photo by Lou Miller

Ann, Alex and Milton in rehearsal (March 2013) Photo by Lou Miller

After months of dreaming and planning (and writing funding applications), the Bloodlines team finally get their teeth into the practical work of the project.  We want to nail the opening section of the show as we’ve been invited to present the project at a major medical conference on the 6th April (European Bone Marrow Group annual conference, the Patients’ Day). What we hope to show is the opening section, a lecture on haematology that mutates in a way that represents the proliferation of mutant white blood cells in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.   It’s an ironic choice of extract for the occasion as our audience (prospective and actual bone marrow transplant recipients) will already have had a day of medical lectures.  So we’ve got to do a good job of augmenting it with sound and visuals, especially when the mutation kicks in.

 

Work is slow going because we are working three elements of the show alongside each other:  Anna’s videoscape (what looks like a standard powerpoint transforms into something more frightening), Milton’s sounds (he’s characterising several of the cell types in sonic form) and the text that Ann will be delivering in that part of the final performance (Bex will be playing her for the EBMT event).  There are long periods of time when each of us is in their own world, staring at laptops and tapping keyboards.  When we do attempt to run the material together,  there are long pauses and diversions – including a lengthy discussion with Ann which eventually establishes that red blood cells sound like rubber rather than wood.

Alex