Thursday, 12 March 2009

Cancer Tales

We've been putting together a brochure to celebrate the work going on in the department, which we'll launch at the rehearsed reading of The Robben Island Bible at Richmond Theatre next month.

But in the build up I thought it might be useful to publish the work in sections on this blog. Starting with Trevor's entry on Cancer Tales, which he's currently re directing in Ireland.

Trevor Walker: In 2001 I received a parcel from the playwright and author Nell Dunn which contained a number of transcripts of interviews with doctors, nurses, carers and patients, all connected with cancer.

I had never met Nell before but had admired her work, particularly Up the Junction and Poor Cow, filmed by Ken Loach. So I agreed to gather together a group of actors to set about workshopping the material and from these experiments and discussions Nell went away and wrote the play, Cancer Tales.

It was first presented as a rehearsed reading at the RADA, followed by a performance of two of the stories at a conference on Arts and Health Care organised by the Royal Society of Medicine. We were all surprised at how well the play was received by healthcare workers who seemed very excited by the work and a number of organisations asked us to present extracts at conferences and seminars. In 2002 the play was published and began to attract even more interest from institutions who saw it as an important teaching tool for the training of people involved in cancer care. I directed the play at the Soho and Greenwood theatres in London and it continued to be performed at large medical conferences but, increasingly at smaller training seminars.

In 2007 Mundipharma International began to fund productions of the play and published Cancer Tales, Communicating in Cancer Care, a workbook which republished the play together with a commentary from doctors and cancer specialists.

Since that time the play continues to be produced at conferences both at home and abroad, most recently at the World Cancer Congress in Geneva, the Royal Society of Medicine in London, and in 2009 it toured Ireland and visited Berlin.

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