The seeing place: Talking theatre & medicine by Deborah & Joanna Bowman
A Professor of Medical Ethics and a theatre director, also mother and daughter, talk about health, illness, suffering, performance and practice.
Using the lenses of ethical and
performance theory, they explore what it means to be a patient, a spectator and a
practitioner and cover many plays, texts and productions: Samuel Beckett’s Not I and All
That Fall, Sarah Kane’s Crave, Tim Crouch’s An Oak Tree, Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk, Annie
Ryan’s adaptation of Eimear McBride’s novel A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, Duncan
MacMillan’s People, Place and Things and Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler.
These were selected because first we have seen, studied or worked with each and they have
continued to inspire us.
Second, they offer rich and revealing insights into the ways in
which meaning(s) is/are both negotiated and contested in relation to health and illness.
It is the iterative negotiation of meaning(s) that, it is argued, is the essence of narrative
practice, be it in medicine or in the theatre. The difference and divergence of perception,
response and interpretation to dramatic performance can test relationships, be
they professional, creative or familial. Yet, the capacity to understand, and embrace,
disagreement and uncertainty is vital; fundamental to a flourishing life. For it is by
recognising our part in creating narratives, broken and otherwise, that we can begin
to recognise the necessary interactionism and humanity of both medicine and theatre.