Posted Wednesday 28 September 2016
An unusual collaboration between drama, nursing and history at Kingston University has led to the creation of a new interactive production.
Entitled 'Careful', the production will take audience participation to a new level with nursing students and graduates playing the part of patients in hospital beds. The first performance took place on Thursday 29 September in Kingston University's Darwin Ward, a simulated hospital environment at the Kingston Hill campus used for training student nurses.
Careful is a product of The Chimera Network, an arts/research group led by Dr Alex Mermikides from the University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Chimera creates artworks about society's complex relationship with the medical field. This production draws on Dr Mermikides' research expertise in performance and medicine and that of her co-founder and brother Milton Mermikides, who is based at the University of Surrey, in science-related musical composition.
Dr Mermikides, who is the brainchild behind the project, said it gave new insight to everyone involved. "Putting student nurses in the position of patients gives them a really memorable sense of vulnerability and lets them see what it's like to be dependent on professional caregiving," she explained. "Watching trained dancers perform as nurses also reminds us that caregiving, like acting or dance, involves hard work and real skill."
As part of the project, nursing and drama students also took part in performance-based workshops with activities led by Dr Mermikides, Kingston University medical history researcher Dr Sue Hawkins and professional actor Ganiat Kusumu – from popular hospital drama Casualty.
University nursing lecturer Sally Richardson said high quality care was fundamental in the profession. "It's been very interesting to observe the nursing and drama students working together," she added. "They bring very different perspectives to the question of what care means in their particular disciplines."
The project is supported by funding from the Arts Council of England.
Images courtesy of Anna Tanczos.