How 2 be a Teenager: an immersive world for young people, including drama, online and live show.
Frankie was awarded a ‘Broadcast Development Award’ from the Wellcome Trust. This funding sees development of Frankie – with Animator Katy Davis making some stunning images; world creation and script writing by Elspeth Penny with Executive Producer, Pete Davies (Dream Machine Media). What’s more, we’ve even got a few secret scientific advisors from top UK universities up our sleeves to make sure that this experiment goes exactly as planned!
Mmm, a whole mouse for tea! Most owls would be delighted but poor Barley the barn owl is afraid of mice and often goes hungry. Being scared of a mouse is the last thing that an owl needs, but help comes from a most unexpected friend.
In this solo show Paul Bradley is composer, narrator, singer, actor and musician; weaving Barley’s story with the help of his original musical settings of ‘The Tyger’, ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ and other classic poems.
Performed by Paul Bradley
Written and Directed by Elspeth Penny
Developed in association with Bristol Ferment at Bristol Old Vic. Also performed at St. George’s Brandon Hill, Bristol to full houses and festivals around the UK. The shows were accompanied by a dance workshop where children moved their way through Stephenson’s ‘Where go the boats’ and other poems.
“It was a truly lovely show by truly lovely people, thank you again for bringing it to St George’s and our young audiences. I put your CD on when we got home, and my daughter spent a further blissful half hour or so dancing and singing along.” St George’s.
Join in celebrating and reinventing the hand-written letter. Relish the imperfections. Physical letters inform us in so many ways: they are about the trail we leave and the future we wish to shape.
If you’d like to book a letter making event or workshop, email us on email@example.com
Check out updates on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/2buproductionsm.me
Letter to my Breath:
As part of the award-winning team at Life of Breath Project (2018 Health Humanities Award), we’ve run over 10 “Letter to my breath” workshops along with Dr Alice Malpass, and organised Being Human Festival event Gasp! Exploring Breath Through Creative Arts at The Arnolfini, other community events such as Breath letters at Fun Palaces. Our related papers and talks are outlined below.
Penny, E., & Malpass, A. (2019). Dear Breath: using story structure to understand the value of letter writing for those living with breathlessness–a qualitative study. Arts & health, 1-15.
Malpass, A., & Penny, E. (2019). Invisible Breath. Storytelling, Self, Society, 15(1), 43-70.
February 2020: we showed letters to the breath to a big crowd at the end exhibition of Life of Breath Project at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Dr Alice Malpass gave a talk including the research we’ve done using the letters, and what we’ll be doing next. It’s exciting to see where the legacy of our work will go now that Life of Breath is over.
Rap to the Breath by Mandeep Singh and friends.
We love this rap – what can I say about it except… big breath in… it’s inspired. It was written and recorded by Mandeep Singh, a year 6 medical student in Jamaica, after he ran a workshop in Southmead for us, for the Catch Your Breath workshop programme. The ideas about breath in the rap bubbled out of all present in the workshop, so credit and respect to all participants.
Thank you to Dr Heather Yoeli, Northumbria University for writing to us about how our work has helped her work:
How did your Letters to Breath project influence me? Well, essentially, I came to my role with the Life of Breath as a prose writer as well as a researcher. Your work provided me with an example of how ethnography and the medical humanities give real credibility to the process and structure as well as to the content of the literature which people living with chronic illness produce. As a result of reading your publications, I was inspired to pursue my tentative dream to encourage the Singing for Lung Health group with which I was working to write their own song, and to use this song as the basis of the study.
Letters for film makers, amongst exotic potions.
I’m part of a gorgeous group of women film makers who meet regularly in Bristol, and when it was my turn to offer a workshop, I ran a letter making workshop for them. Unexpectedly, we couldn’t get into our usual venue so I ended up running it from behind the wooden counter at the narrow and wonderful herbalist ‘Urban Fridge’ in Colston Street – all brown bottles and exotic potions. I felt strangely at home as an ersatz herbalist (with my feathers, inks and a mini selection of materials laid out in front of me) and if I was 25 years younger would certainly be asking for a Saturday job there. I made do with buying some orange peel digestive bitters from Max the owner.
Exhibition at Southmead hospital
Great to see Alice, Louise and my work on Letters to the Breath represented in the Catch Your Breath exhibition at Southmead hospital. Louise Jenkins’ work Breath Capsules, using letters that our participants have made, looks stunning. Anyone can go and see the exhibition – walk inside the main entrance, down the foyer in Southmead hospital, it’s nearly at the end on the left. #breath #artsandhealth #catchyourbreath. The exhibition will move to Bristol Central Library in January 2020.
Here’s a January 2020 blog post about two of my recent workshops: https://catchyourbreath.org/writing-letters-to-your-breath
Letter to My Superhero
Lovely development for my letter writing project. I’m part of “Community Connections”, a social prescribing programme in the South Ward area of Weston-super-Mare. A full-time social prescriber is taking referrals from health professionals working in the For All Healthy Living Centre, who will connect people to non-medical support within their local communities and beyond. Cooked up by the lovely Fiona Matthews Theatre Orchard, and with Arts and Health South West support, the programme has a particular focus on working with and through creative and arts-based approaches. I’m running a series of workshops over two years to help towards the evaluation programme. This involves me leading a workshop called Letter to My Superhero, as well as working alongside K Scottish comedian and comic strip creator, Kev Sutherland, Scottish comedian and comic strip creator (including for the Beano and Marvel).
Life of Breath Project Paper/Presentations
Paper: 2019 Malpass A. Penny, E. Invisible Poem: writing letters to the breath self and creating visual stories: Storytelling, Self and Society
2019 June. Workshop at The Storytelling For Health conference in Swansea along with GP Dr Gene Feder and Dr Alice Malpass.
One of 4 exhibition art works at the Storytelling For Health Conference is a piece inspired by our Letter to The Breath Project, by artist Louise Jenkins.
2019 Provocation at Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance: Cultures of breathlessness: using creative letters to the breath to navigate narrative wreckage.
Blog posts: https://lifeofbreath.org/2018/11/letter-to-my-breath-at-fun-palaces-bristol, https://lifeofbreath.org/2018/01/gasp-making-breathlessness-less-invisible-through-the-creative-arts, https://wp.me/p2Dje8-aS
Looking towards Spring 2019
Excited to be running 3 pilot workshops in primary schools, funded by Life of Breath Project. The workshops will involve creative letter writing, puppetry and dance.
Also, Dr Alice Malpass and Elspeth are delighted to announce that our first paper “Dear Breath: using story structure to understand the value of letter writing for those living with breathlessness – a qualitative study”, has been accepted for publication with Arts & Health journal and we’re looking forward to presenting workshops and more at the letters at the Life of Breath final exhibition Catch Your Breath in Bristol in 2019 (currently on display in Palace Green Library, Durham).
Two blog posts in 2018 on my Letter to the Breath project with Life of Breath Project, University of Bristol:
And a blog post on Art, mother and son, nature and transition…. http://elspethpenny.com/…/…/arts-residency-at-the-mothership
Emotion Coaching Autumn 2017
Writing a letter to your breath 2017
November 24th: Being Human Festival. An afternoon of activities about the breath. Our breath in our hands…. great to see this new Life of Breath project blog post: Dr Alice Malpass writes about the @BeingHumanFest event “Gasp!” with Elspeth Penny exploring how an installation artist, puppeteer, musician, writer, dancer & choreographer use breath/breathlessness in their work. https://lifeofbreath.org/2018/01/gasp-making-breathlessness-less-invisible-through-the-creative-arts .
Burnley: Thanks to Janet Janet Swan: Reading. Story. Voice at the wonderful Burnley Singing For Lung Health Group. Dr Alice Malpass and I loved running a workshop there in November for our www.lifeofbreath.org research project. Fifteen singers wrote letters to their breath, as well as started Christmas tree decoration letters.
September 2017: Super generous contributions to my Festival breakfast talk https://www.bristolfestivalofpuppetry.org/…/festival-breakf… at The Bristol Festival of Puppetry on 7th September, and a great turn out.
My notebook is now full of observations and ideas for a play which is emerging… Co-hosted with puppeteer Chris Pirie, we explored puppets, breath, performance possibilities, croissants, grapes and coffee in the Tobacco Factory foyer. At the table were cast and director from The Broke ‘N’ Beat Collective who were fresh from a victorious show the night before. Also Dr Alice Malpass from Life of Breath, musician Paul Bradley, my yoga teacher sister Diana, and a 90 year old local lady who turned up half way through with some puppets and told us some funny stories. Thanks to Emma and Lucy from Puppet Place for organisation and helping Puppet Place.
Meeting my on screen ‘husband’ story-teller Stuart Packer for the first time, just before the launch of the David Mackie short film Breakdown that we were both in https://vimeo.com/206720872
July 2017: Some fantastic feedback and follow up opportunities after our conferences this summer for Dr Alice Malpass and I: we spoke in Swansea and Bristol about our innovative arts and health work using the letter writing workshops. Looking forward to developing our ideas some more.
Letter to Your Breath: podcast by Dr Sarah McLusky Project Manager, Life of Breath https://lifeofbreath.org/podcast/letter-to-your-breath
Dr Alice Malpass and myself presented at Swansea’s Storytelling for Health Conference, Saturday 17th 2017 June, 11-13.00 Reading Room, School of Architectural Glass, Alex Building. Title of session… Creative Writing Workshop. We’ll be looking at narrative in our project Letter to my Breath www.lifeofbreath.org, and some of it will be practical. We’re presenting alongside two other creative writing workshops – Sarah Goodey from Healing Words and Vicky Field from The Poetry Practice… exciting!
Culture, Health and Wellbeing International Conference
19,20,21 June 2017 Bristol UK….Dr Alice Malpass and I talked about our work together for the Life of Breath Project, including Writing a Letter to my Breath on the day for Policy, acute care, medical humanities, arts therapies.
MAY 25 2017 Bath Spa Uni,Thank you to Dr Pamela Karantonis
Senior Lecturer in Acting (Voice)
Newton Park Campus, Bath Spa Uni, for facilitating and hosting a Letter to the Breath workshop yesterday, with Creative Corporealities group (and for the delicious coffee). It was a balmy day, but everyone was very productive. Dr Alice Malpass and I so enjoyed working with your group, and some smashing letters were created. I hope some further collaboration will come out of it.
Newsletter extract written by Rachel Lowrie, English Teacher, for Churchill Academy in the February 2017 newsletter:
On Wednesday, we were lucky enough to welcome Elspeth Penny and Dr Alice Malpass from the Life of Breath Project into school to run a workshop for 12 students. During the session, students learnt to become more aware of their breathing and to be thankful for its help in allowing us to live, laugh and sing. Following a series of warm up activities, including consideration of the lost art of letter writing, the students culminated the process by creating a note to their breath. Some employed a quill to record their thoughts, others painted their ideas with homemade beetroot ink and sprayed their paper with the scent of rose or pine. There was not a biro in sight! Using the abundance of tools and resources that were on offer, their masterpieces both touched and inspired the group.
Dr Alice Malpass and I ran a workshop in Burnley in November 2017 – what a big pleasure! It was for Burnley’s British Lung Foundation Singing For Lung Health group.
We now have some more fantastic Letters to The Breath for our research @lifeofbreath, Bristol University https://naturalvoice.net/ch…/burnley-singing-for-lung-health.
I am including a wonderful email I received, after the session – thanks so much Janet.
Spring 2016…. lovely feedback from a workshop:
‘Your workshop last Tuesday gave our Breathe Easy members food for thought and a creative outlet not experienced often enough on third Tuesdays in the Acorn Suite. I hope you agree that the varied response, in words and images, is proof of the value of the afternoon to those present, not least the fun of it.
Mary tells me that the procession of the exercises led her to realise she could rise above negativity and begin again to enjoy life.’ Mike Green, chair of the Forest of Dean Breath Easy group.
Elspeth is excited to have been asked by Dr Alice Malpass of Bristol University to work on a research study about our relationship with the breath. It’s part of a larger project called Life of Breath, funded by the Welcome Trust. Elspeth will be running ‘Writing a letter to my breath’ workshops.
Healthy City Week 2016
Elspeth ran several workshops:
1. Letter to my Bones (or other body parts!)
Saturday 15th Oct at 1.30 at Wellspring, Barton Hill:
Elspeth Penny, with her letter-writing rack, unusual pens, inks and inspiration invites you to write, create or draw a hand-written letter to your own bones (or another body part such as liver, brain, lungs, heart). No one will be correcting your spelling or grammar here, but hopefully you’ll see your health in a new light and remember how enjoyable it is to write a letter. Everyone welcome.”
2. A Letter to my Pain & Duet of One, a collaboration with Raquel Meseguer.
Friday 21st October at 5-7pm at Hours Space, 10 Colston Yard Bristol BS1 5BD www.hours-space.com
A free two-part workshop, for those with an invisible disability or long-term pain condition: this is your space. It is the chance for you to invite someone you know (a friend, partner, sibling) to experience a two-part workshop with you.
In A Letter to my Pain, Elspeth, with her letter-writing rack, unusual pens, inks and inspiration will guide you to write, create or draw a letter to your pain, or to your body (placing the person in pain first).
In Duet for one, Raquel will then invite you and your plus ones to slow down, listen closely, and find a truly healthy groove.
n.b. This event aims to raise awareness of invisible disability, and welcomes anyone with a disability.
For ticket: click here
For more info please contact Elspeth: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about Healthy City Week at www.bristolgreencapital.org/health
Elspeth took 34 children caving at Goatchurch Cavern in the Mendips, followed by a poetry workshop (see the stalactite words hanging in the classroom as the poems begin to form): funding from Discovering Blackdown Project. The poems went into the time capsule Elspeth arranged to go in Blagdon school attic, along with letters that the children have written to the future and to themselves in the future.
If you’d like to book a workshop: email us on email@example.com
Elspeth Penny (MA Cantab, MA UEA) is a Writer, Director and an Arts-in-health specialist with www.lifeofbreath.org; she is Writer and Director and Creative Producer for Arts Council Funded play Silva Lining’s Care Plan trailer, and runs workshops for Bristol University’s Life of Breath Project, Nailsea Town Council, WECIL and EHCAP. She loves handwriting, letters, teaching creativity, wilderness and dance.
We get great feedback from talks and workshops we present, at conferences and universities:
‘Thank you so very much for your participation, which made a huge difference to the event and helped make it a success.’ Dr Imran Saif. MB BS, FCPS (Med), FCPS (Neph), FASN, FRCP. Associate Postgraduate Dean, Health Education England. May 2016
We’ve had several summers of successful workshops and public talks, and we now are pleased to offer training with a bit of oomph, for healthcare professionals. With the threat of high litigation bills and Duty of Candour, it’s essential to learn how to maximise communication skills.
Sessions are interactive and participatory, led with sensitivity, panache and humour by Communications Specialist and actor Elspeth Penny and medics including Oncology Professor David Radstone and consultant Dr Mike Jeffreys.
We have presented on the topics:
- Challenging Conversations (SAS Doctors’ Conference, Plymouth 2016).
- How To Communicate Bad News Well (The 4th Annual SAS Doctors’ Conference in Bristol 2015, The Patient Safety Conference 2015).
- Consulting students, facilitating medical consultation skills sessions and providing simulated patient services for ten years for medical students at Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth University, Bristol and Bath University.
About our workshops:
- Ideal number of participants: 30 or under
- For enquiries about other topics available, and fees: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 07736371087
- For Elspeth’s blog post on one of our talks see: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-break-bad-news-medical-consultation-introduction-written-penny?trk=prof-post
More Feedback on our workshops:
- ‘Dear Elspeth,
My team and I would like to thank you and Dr Mike Jeffreys for presenting at our 5th Annual SAS Doctors’ Conference at Plymouth on 10-11 May 2016.
The conference went extremely well and informal feedback I received from the delegates was excellent; we will send you the formal feedback next month.
Thank you so very much for your participation, which made a huge difference to the event and helped make it a success.’
Dr Imran Saif. MB BS, FCPS (Med), FCPS (Neph), FASN, FRCP. Associate Postgraduate Dean, Health Education England.
- ‘The feedback has been very positive and we would like to thank you for your contribution’, Faculty and Trainee Performance Administrator at Health Education South West. Professor David Radstone and Ms Elspeth Penny – How to communicate bad news to patients 2
- ‘Dear Elspeth, thank you so much for doing the Breaking bad news talk at the conference with Professor Radstone. It was good to have a talk that made people reflect on what it might feel like to be the patient or the patient’s relative. The scene where Professor Radstone broke the bad news to you made many people feel quite emotional, me included’. Katherine Dougherty, Conference Director.
- ‘Thank you for your professionalism, excellent role-play and feedback,’ Dr Andrew Tressider, Musgrove Park.
- ‘Your comments and feedback really was spot on and very useful,’ Exeter University 2nd year medical student.
- ‘I became familiar with Elspeth’s performance work through having observed her acting as a patient during a selection process for GP training. I was impressed by her authentic portrayal of the case concerned, as well as the flexibility she showed in responding to different interpretations by the trainee doctors, whilst staying within the confines of the brief – not an easy task. It is immediately apparent that Elspeth is a highly reflective practitioner who can adapt her performance skills to a variety of genres and for different audiences and purposes.’ Jane Rowe, Senior Fellow HEA, Learning and Teaching Advisor at Exeter University.
Watch the trailer: Silva Lining’s Care Plan trailer
Our recent work includes a previously ACE-funded project: ‘Silva Lining’s Care Plan’; we held rehearsed script readings in Bristol and Nottingham; live cello, comedic and puppetry elements. “A wonderful and moving exploration of the complex relationship between carer and cared for. Both heart-rending and laugh-out-loud.” Alex Coulter, Director, Arts and Health South West.
Now even more highly topical, Silva Lining’s Care Plan’ is a high- quality play informed by the personal experience of carers of people with dementia that questions what it means to be human and to care.We have been working to convert this to become an episodic podcast play, with additional interview material, in order to find new ways to reach carers.
“Silva Lining’s Care Plan is a wonderful and moving exploration of the complex relationship between carer and cared for. Both heart-rending and laugh-out-loud, it takes you on a roller-coaster of an emotional journey through Silva Lining’s story, with many an amusing aside from her Brain.” Alex Coulter, Director,Arts & Health South West. Chair,Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance
“Professional carers are hidden from view, yet are at the heart of support to people with disabilities or disabling illness, particularly dementia, helping them to live at home as long as possible. This play portrays the complex relationship between a carer and a woman – a retired doctor – living with dementia. Mutual respect, misunderstandings, anger, beauty, frustration, jokes and, above all, love, drew me into this poignant play with beautiful acting and even a brain puppet.” Gene Feder, Professor of primary health care Centre for Academic Primary Care Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol
“Everyone involved as Commissioners of care services or as carers should immerse themselves in this play. You will forever see “Caring” in a new light. I was immediately captivated by the scene and the setting – familiar to me as a GP. Difficulty in gaining access to the patient’s house using door codes has been part of my lived experience for many years. The conversation between Silva Lining and her carer, the profound insights and astonishing puppetry engaged me throughout. ” Dr Malcolm Rigler FRSPH, Health Ambassador at: www.patients-association.com
Our play Silva Lining’s Care Plan was featured in Care and Cure magazine: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/…/wi…/tandem-arts-and-dementia
Was super to meet with Phillip Ball and have a thrilling conversation about neuroscience, mini brains and his upcoming book. Philip’s article about his work with http://www.createdoutofmind.org spawned a whole character in our play Silva Lining’s Care Plan – and that is Brain. Hoping to continue conversations and also find out more about this fantastic recent Wellcome Trust project, as Silva develops into its next phase.
Our tour to Nottingham was a big success, it went smoothly, with three performances, one at TANdem Conference and two at The Contemporary in central Nottingham. We had some great feedback, and lots of pointers of where to go next. We were also featured on Notts TV and BBC One – East Midlands Today news at 6.30/10.30pm and on iPlayer. Great to raise awareness about carers and dementia! Catch the cast of “Silva Lining’s care plan” written and directed by Elspeth Penny, with Angie Belcher Pameli Benham Sarah Moody and Isobel Ripley alongside Prof.Justine Schneider as they shed light on #dementiacare research:
Early reviews – summer 2018
We were really pleased with our performance in July 2018 at Puppet Place, Silva Lining’s Care Plan 5th July 2018, lots of great reactions. It reinforced my belief that the most important issue and theme of our time is what it is to care. “If we are not to turn into robots, if we are to retain our humanness, then we urgently need to understand what makes us human. We KNOW that caring is powerful, precisely BECAUSE care gets marginalized, silenced, bullied off the agenda. But carers are the silent majority. That’s why this play is vital.” Dr Ingrid Wassenaar.
“This play must be watched/shared with carers old and new and care agencies. Good to see a positive care/relationship and the importance of getting it right. Very powerful. I was completely engaged for the whole piece”
“I thought the play was excellent, I enjoyed every minute, ‘felt the emotion’.
‘We are taken on a very rich journey’.
‘Respect for what the old person carries within’
‘Loved that you weren’t sure of who is looking after who’
‘Enjoyed the quirkiness, fantasy element, music and effects’
‘A highlight was the mix of real and miraculous, people and puppet, symbols, sounds and songs
‘High class script and acting’
‘A tour de force’
‘Playful, challenging, stirring, surreal, magical, funny!’
‘Engaging, informative, humorous, worrying, thought-provoking.’
Bristol University, Life of Breath Project, Avon Fire & Rescue, Nailsea Town Council, University of Bath, BBC Radio Bristol, Breast Cancer Care, Pukka.
Life of Breath Project, WECIL (West of England Centre for Inclusive Living), Professor Justine Schneider at Nottingham University, Nailsea Town Council, Being Human Festival, Professor David Radstone, Dr Sarah Temple MRCGP – Director EHCAP Ltd, Somerset CCG, Dr Malcolm Bradbury, Keo Films, Navmotion, Films of Record.
The Wellcome Trust www.wellcome.ac.uk
The Arts Council www.artscouncil.org.uk
The Heritage Lottery Fund www.hlf.org.uk
Good Things Foundation
And we’d also like to thank for their support and encouragement:
Theatre Orchard, The Tobacco Factory, C4 Education, The Bristol Old Vic, CBBC, Cinekid, Motion Pictures Barcelona, Nickelodeon, The Children’s Media Conference and all the companies and individuals who help us along the way.
Thank you to all our wonderful clients, collaborators and funders.
2BU Productions are working with clinician Barny Hole: https://2buproductions.org/bring-research-to-life/
I am a kidney doctor and am studying for a PhD. My research looks at how older people with kidney failure decide between dialysis (a kidney machine) and comprehensive conservative care (treatment of symptoms, social and psychological problems without dialysis).
Every day in the UK ten people older than 65 develop kidney failure. The ‘right’ treatment depends upon what is most important to an individual. Little research is available looking at what older patients with kidney disease want and what is important to them. We know they experience uncertainty when making up their minds. They can feel pressurised to start dialysis and those receiving it can regret starting.
I am currently running the UNPACK study, which will improve our understanding of how people make these decisions. It will help us to support them better and develop systems that better meet their needs. The study arose from my experiences caring for older people with kidney disease. I have treated hundreds of families approaching kidney failure. Research to improve care for people like them is vital.