Arts and Health medical humanities Our Projects

Bring Research to Life

Writing and performing fictional scripts, based on research, helps take ideas and complex concepts to a public audience.

News off the press for March 2020… our play ‘Out Like Fudge’ will be translated and performed in Denmark in November 2020.

Out Like Fudge is a short play/vignette, which was shown at a nephrology (kidney) conference at Bristol Wills building last December. In the audience was Jeanette Finderup, Klinisk Sygeplejespecialist & Ph.d. Jeanette liked it and is having it translated for her conference.

Described as ‘Hard hitting’, by another conference attendee, ‘Out Like Fudge’ is one of two short plays Elspeth wrote for clinician and Phd candidate Barny Hole in Autumn 2019, based on kidney patients. Much of it is verbatim, as it’s based on spoken interviews that Barny recorded and transcribed, as part of his PhD. The story features Fudge, a pet who died quite suddenly: our character Jo would like to leave the earth in a similar way.

The play will be on the 6th November in the afternoon – Barny and Elspeth hope to be there to introduce it. The play will be called: Ikke mere udenomsnak.

Conference organiser Jeanette Finderup says: “We were not able to make a direct translation, but the Danish title indicate, that now we do not talk around the subject anymore.”

If Covid-19 travel permissions and clinical work commitments allow for it, Elspeth will do a short introduction of the play and Barny will present a lecture for one hour with the title: Hvad må det koste at leve længere for en patient i dialyse? “The title says something like: How much will a patient in dialysis pay to live longer?”

Rehearsing Out Life Fudge in the Wills Building, Bristol: Chris, Jo and Bede.

The project started when Clinician Barny Hole of Bristol University had a hunch that drama might be a good approach to help with public engagement around his PhD subject. Elspeth was recommended to Barny on the grapevine, and asked her to write and direct the work. In the early meetings, we agreed that humour was important, even through the humour might be dark. Also we wanted to stay true to the people in the interviews, whilst protecting their identities and fictionalising elements to make it into an easier story to follow.

We’ve performed it on two occasions, enabling both a PPI group, then clinicians and conference delegates at #dialysisbalance to reflect, and consider dilemmas about medical procedures from the point of view of a patient. Thanks to Jo, Karen, @ChrisPirie and Bede for their sensitive script-reading skills #dialysisbalance #bringresearchtolife #elizabethbackwellinstitute funded.

Feedback after December dialysis conference:

“I thought it was very well done, and I liked that the actors spoke the words from interviews – it was a clever idea”

“The words were impactful and very sad”

“I do like different ways of communicating messages this certainly got across some key points form real life experiences”

“The revelation that all the words came from real people facing ESKD decisions was powerful”

“very involved. Has left a significant mark on me as to how many patients must feel when they are told dialysis is required”

“So powerful”

“Slightly shocked by some of the language – it is hard-hitting but a really good way of getting insight through drama”

“I’m a GP… it was thought provoking, challenging of traditional approaches both in care but also conference content. I really valued that”

Our Projects

Catch Your Breath Exhibition Consultant

March 2020

Whirlwind of activities to end Life of Breath. A last research meeting followed by a wondrous celebration evening, followed by morning project breakfast. I love my paperweight, thank you Life of Breath. I will use it to remind me of how much I’ve learned and gained whilst being involved. So glad I’ve been able to contribute to such an important project. Am very moved… Professor Havi Carel said some lovely things, including, ‘Elspeth, you and Catherine have gone beyond my wildest dreams for the exhibition (and events).’ Got to say that being involved in the project has gone beyond all my expectations….

Corridor photos at the last Life of Breath meeting, with Jordan and Catherine
End of project present

Still reflecting on the fantastic evening at Bristol Museum which we held on Thursday to celebrate Life of Breath project. The gathering, the exhibits, the choir… beautiful. Feel very proud of all our work.

January 2020

Here’s my January blog post, featuring all the latest for Catch Your Breath Bristol:

Thank you Catherine

I am eternally grateful to my co-consultant Dr Catherine Lamont for her unerring positivity and feedback. Here are a few of her words keeping me afloat….

“You have such an unerring eye for unique creators Elspeth!”

“Belated thanks for the delightful below Elspeth – you are such a power-house of energy – and fab your talents (not just your appreciation of others’ talents!.).. continue to be recognised”

“Unsurprising the suspended letters were a big hit with the Liberal Arts students on their tour at Southmead yesterday – as was the Letters to My Breath intervention when shared on Tuesday in the workshop after talk”

“Thanks all for such a thought-provoking evening. As I mentioned to Elspeth – I feel the range of the ‘audience’ was perfect to gently unpick your invitations from so many perspectives. Also a welcome reminder to me about how much role-play can energise the data – wonderful embodied re-framing! – and loved the balance of mime, writing, dialogue – not forgetting the web – nor the chocolates… I am still mulling over much… and appreciate the (anticipated) food for thought, opportunity to absorb your insights”

December 2019

It’s such fun being a consultant and curator on the Wellcome Trust funded Life of Breath Project’s Catch Your Breath Bristol exhibition and workshop programme. Working alongside Philosophy Professor Havi Carel, fellow consultant Catherine Lamont, and our administrators Jordan and Nancy is a total pleasure. Creating events which bring together the interdisciplinary team, at Life of Breath Project, and the public, is a joy.

All about our exhibition – a blog past – – some lovely events if you happen to be near Bristol.

September 2019

Some feedback from our launch.

‘A brilliant range of events, inventive and intelligent’

‘You were a great speaker – audible, succinct, interesting and measured (steady presence).’

There have been many wonderful workshops we’ve been able to provide so far, for example a workshop about breath in puppetry with the inspired Chris Pirie (Green Ginger).

‘What a rich, diverse and interesting array of exhibits and stories! Dr Nina Couzin, Institute Manager, Elizabeth Blackwell Institute for Health Research.

Louise Jenkins’ Breath Capsules, inspired by the Letter to the Breath project, developed by Elspeth Penny and Dr Alice Malpass

Rap to the breath workshop

Also, light-touch, attentive, playful, fully embodied, inspired… we’re so pleased to have brought Mandeep Singh @MandeepTheMC into our programme. He held an awesome workshop at the cosy funky venue ⁦@southbank_club, Bristol. Mandeep, who is a year 6 medical student at Kings, came over to Bristol for us, and got all participants rapping about the breath: we even made our own rap too, soon to be released (perhaps) !