Every Breath

Written by Judith Johnson / Produced by Theatre of Debate

Description

Sonny, 18, is a vegetarian who has always been concerned about the environment and animal rights. His sister Anita, 21, is a carnivorous scientist completely convinced that using animals in medical research is justified. As a gripping family drama unfolds, Sonny’s future plans, and his principles, are put to the test, when his health takes a turn for the worse…

Set against an instantly recognisable background of family life and pressures, Judith Johnson’s play takes a difficult subject and looks at both sides of the argument. The result is a thought-provoking, even-handed debate on one of the most divisive of contemporary issues.

The live production and debate of Every Breath had four tours to schools throughout the UK and has been seen by over 20,000 students and teachers. The 2006 July/September tour started with a three-week run at the Hill Street Theatre, 2006 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The project was developed to raise the level of the debate about the use of animals in medical research at a time when extremism was capturing the headlines, and sensible dialogue risked being stifled by fear.

Every Breath was filmed, funded by Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

Details

Focus: The arguments for and against the use of animals in medical research. The play also explores other themes relating to SMSC – spiritual, social, moral, social and cultural development including family conflicts, faith and beliefs.

Who is Every Breath suitable for: Teachers can use the project across subjects and curricula, specifically in Science, PSHE, Citizenship, English, Drama, RS and to SMSC – spiritual, social, moral, social and cultural development. It is appropriate for both 14 – 16 and 16+ age groups. It is also suitable for Science Communicators, medical students, nurses, health workers and Home Educators.

Length: 39 minutes

Full Film: Available through Theatre of Debate, with subtitles by Stagetext

Resources: Available for teachers and students, science communicators and health workers

Synopsis

Sonny, 18, is a vegetarian who has always been concerned about the environment and animal rights. His sister Anita, 21, is a carnivorous scientist completely convinced that using animals in medical research is justified. As a gripping family drama unfolds, Sonny’s future plans, and his principles, are put to the test, when his health takes a turn for the worse…

Set against an instantly recognisable background of family life and pressures, Judith Johnson’s play takes a difficult subject and looks at both sides of the argument. The result is a thought-provoking, even-handed debate on one of the most divisive of contemporary issues.

Characters

Anita, 21 years old, a chemistry graduate about to do a PhD. Anita has always been very bright (she was often referred to as ‘the little madam’ as a child). She is confident, vivacious and smart. She has a very sharp tongue though, and often falls back on sarcasm when she’s feeling nervous. She does not suffer fools gladly.

Sonny, Anita’s brother, aged 18. He’s just finished his A levels. Sonny is a (non-violent) activist. From a young age he has been concerned about the environment and animal rights. He is an active, gentle young man, much loved by everyone who knows him. He is very close to his mother, with whom he has a good, humorous rapport.

Lina, Sonny and Anita’s Mum. 43. Works at a garden centre. Lina has been a single mother since her partner died 10 years ago. She is very dedicated to her children, some might even say overprotective. She certainly neglects herself in favour of the kids. She has a tendency to take life too seriously, but she does have a wry sense of humour which comes out especially with Sonny.

Raz, is 37 and is a painter and decorator. Trying to have a relationship with Lina. Raz is a quirky, kind-hearted ex-punk. Originally from quite a rough background, he shook off his past and ended up travelling the world for many years, doing odd jobs, taking in life. He is a breath of fresh air for Lina and is currently thinking about becoming a Buddhist.

“Theatre of Debate’s work is very important because you tackle issues of national importance in a way that makes serious moral questions accessible to year 10 students and engages a new generation in decisions about their future. This is a vital activity.”

“The students responded with howls of laughter and shrieks of delight and the discussion at the end was full of passion and intelligence. Waverley’s catchment covers some of the poorest London neighbourhoods. The play made sense to them.”

Developed in partnership with

The Association of Medical Research Charities

Supported by the Wellcome Trust.

Created in collaboration with

Europeans for Medical Progress

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection

The Seriously Ill for Medical Research

The RSPCA

University College London

The Association of Medical Research Charities

Read the Guardian review