dancing in the ward

Delighted to share Careful with its first audiences in the Darwin ward at Kingston University. We put our audience members – nursing staff and students; leading experts in theatre and in theatre and health and to friends and family IN THE PATIENT BEDS!

Huge thanks to everyone who came and who gave us feedback.

 

the productive ward

We’re migrant this week – but still manage to attack the show from different angles.

Bex (our doctor/dramaturgy), Phil (our former nurse/performer) and I put our heads together for a dramaturgy meeting in Hampstead Theatre, discussing some of the articles we’ve been reading (many from the journal of nursing philosophy) and crunching big questions about what the show is about.

Adam joins us for rehearsal at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (thanks Gareth White for use of space). Here’s a little snippet of the choreography he created: a short sequence based on nursing routines (unwrapping a swab pack, washing hands). The performers are Archana Balal, Helena Rice and Thalia-Marie Papadopoulos. Shoddy camerawork by me (apologies)

And I kick-start work on some of the interactive stuff in the dance spaces at Kingston University.

 

faking it

20160713_104050Today is the last of three sets of ‘simulations’ that I have been observing as part of our research and development – these are training sessions run by the Nursing department for their student nurses, an opportunity to put their clinical skills to the test in safe but ‘real world’ settings.  Today’s ‘sim’ for second year students, recreates the front rooms of three people with obvious medical needs (wound care, diabetes testing, instructions of how to use a nebuliser) – but the student nurses are expected to also pick up clues about their patient’s mental state, not only reading between the lines in their conversations with the patient-actor, but also from the environment. An empty box of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts hints at an almost suicidal depression for our bereaved diabetic patient. A crumpled rug represents a trip hazard for an elderly patient on crutches.  The simulation set up for Mental Health nurses is dramatic in comparison as we are plunged into a large ‘ward’ of volatile clients. Some of the role-play actors have been embodying their ‘characters’ for many years and they have deep and complex ‘back stories’.  The student nurses are presented with complicated and unpredictable behaviours.

The close affinity between medicine and theatre is obvious here. Not just in the actors playing patients, but in the nurses’ performance on their role, in their reading of the staged settings and suspension of disbelief.

 

patient’s perspective

Milton (our sound designer) comes to today’s rehearsal in the afternoon. We ask him to take his place in the bed and perform for him some snippets we’ve been developing in the morning. We’ve continued to play with the idea of the ‘composite’ nurse – two bodies representing one person. Dominique & Phil approach his bed side, peering around his hospital chart. Archana and Thalia slide through assorted roles and tasks, ending up trapped by a blood pressure cuff. As a former patient himself, Milton is quite affected by his confrontation with what he calls these ‘hyperbolic nurses… ‘four legs, four arms, two faces’. They capture something of the multiple roles that nurse’s play, and the almost mythical quality they can acquire in a dependent patient’s imagination.

As we continue exploring the creative possibilities of today’s pairings, Milton quietly moves around the space with his laptop, turning on taps, swishing curtains, fiddling with scissors. When we gather to cool down and debrief he plays us a little composition, made up entirely of found sounds from the ward we’ve been working in. Comical and eerie at the same time.

Thank you Dominique Vannod, Phil Hambly, Archana Ballal, Thalia-Marie Papadopoulos, Adam Kirkham and Milton Mermikides for your hard work today.