ROUNDS: Guest feature from Resuscitate Theatre

rounds-image-300pixRounds is a devised theatre piece based around true stories told by junior doctors, created by the Resuscitate Theatre Company and led by Lecoq-trained director Anna Marshall.

Rounds was developed last year and since being devised, was shortlisted for the Les Enfants Terribles LET award in 2016;  programmed as part of the Reveal Season at the Octagon Bolton; and was selected to be performed as part of both the Illuminate Festival (Wimbledon) and Off Beat Festival (Oxford) – all between May-June 2016. This performance at the Blue Elephant Theatre will see a redeveloped version of the show. This redevelopment focuses on adjusting the show in line with current developments in relations to the NHS and junior doctors.

The topics addressed in Rounds are having a huge impact on countless individuals, which fuels our conviction that we must voice this effectively.

“A show like this has the capacity to constantly evolve… I suspect we will always need a play such as Rounds.” Female Arts ****

The show focuses on the human behind the professional; this is a conscious decision for us. Our adjustments will focus more on the human qualities of the junior doctors, in the hope of providing a wider understanding for the reasons behind their decisions. Resuscitate’s Lecoq style serves to open up aspect of the subject matter perfectly, provoking a platform for honest and brave discussions amongst audiences and beyond.

“What’s happening with the NHS is terrifying. I think Rounds demonstrates an important life lesson on our own vulnerabilities and how the government responds to them. Exeunt Magazine gave us a great quote for Rounds, but the sentiment stands true in anything: ‘Rounds is a lesson is vulnerability; without vulnerability we will never learn and we can never recover.’ The NHS and all its staff are very vulnerable right now, it’s how we go forward from here is what will matter. The scary thing is the path so far doesn’t look that great.” – Heather Ralph, Producer

We have no agenda at all. We just found a passion in this story and we want to continue to bring it to light in the best way we as theatre professionals can. Our aim is to present the facts as they are, to give audiences a glimpse into a doctor’s life.  There is no real take home message of the show, but if there was I would say it’s to see the people and understand them.

As a company we are proud of the work we’ve done and hope that the production is able to convey to audiences what it’s like to be coping with life, death and the pressures of an overstretched NHS on a daily basis.

All our characters and there circumstances are based on true stories. The piece is not a verbatim piece, but it is very important to us that the stories come from a very real and true place.

For example one of our characters, Dr. Lucy Wright, is a hard working overachiever who often feels that her best isn’t good enough. She found things tough at medical school so is determined to prove that she’s a capable and confident doctor. Her single-mindedness means she struggles to form the close relationships she’d hoped to have with her fellow doctors and this leads her to making some questionable choices.

The main story line running through the core of the show focuses on mental health problems amongst doctors and NHS workers in general. Through our research we have learnt about the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues, symptoms and triggers, and looked at how this might affect what happens in the workplace.

Having looked into a few distressing case studies where doctors’ mental health deteriorated, we’ve found that the procedures of the General Medical Council in these circumstances can often just pile more pressure on, rather than providing the support required. These are caring people whose profession failed them.

Hopefully audiences will have empathy for Lucy’s situation and come away with an appreciation of just how tough it can be to get through each day, no matter how passionately she might want to help people.

The show overall is a mixture of tense and light-hearted moments. It is true to life and has been created with the help of practising junior doctors. We had two junior doctors come into the rehearsal room when we devised the show in 2016, in order to make sure medical jargon is accurate, and the depiction of their daily activities is as realistic as possible. Resuscitate Theatre is a movement-based company, so we would get taught the movement to simple medical examine (such as a crainial nerve exam) and then our director works with the cast to teach us movements… transfer the same movements  into a physical movement sequences in the show.

The reaction from medical professionals has been very supportive, approaching us at the end of show to say they recognise the characters and are impressed actors got on board with medical jargon.

“I think every medical student should come and see this. I recognise every character in this show – and that’s what’s so interesting.” Tamsin Nash: Junior Doctor

Rounds runs at Blue Elephant Theatre London from Thursday 16 March – Saturday 25 March
http://www.blueelephanttheatre.co.uk/whatson

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