People Are Messy

Written by Judith Johnson / Produced by Theatre of Debate

Description

Judith Johnson’s powerful and sensitive play, tells the story of two very different boys with one destructive disease. Self assured consultant Adam seeks funding for his research into aplastic anaemia, but must first demonstrate the involvement of the public with the help of long term patient Vick and newly diagnosed Jake.

Developed in partnership with the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre and the National Institute for Health Research, supported by the Wellcome Trust.

The live production and debate of People are Messy toured schools throughout the UK and has been seen by over 4,951 students and teachers.

Of particular relevance were the links cited by some teachers into the relatively new requirement by the Department for Education for schools to include content and coverage related to spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development. Some expressed that the People are Messy production and subsequent debate enabled them to collect evidence of pupil development in these areas.

Outreach with Target 16 schools – An evaluation of Theatre of Debate’s People are Messy production delivered in a selection of Target-16 schools in West Yorkshire by Dr David Wilkinson with Carreen Dew Dr Jon Barber Teresa Storey – University of Leeds.

Details

Focus: While the core theme of the play, the debate and the focus of the learning objectives is public and patient involvement in research, the play also explores other themes relating to spiritual, social, moral, social and cultural development including bereavement, grief and living with a rare and sometimes terminal disease.

Who is People are Messy suitable for: Appropriate for both 14 – 16 and 16+ age groups. Teachers can use the project across subjects and curricula, specifically in Science, PSHE, Citizenship, English, Drama and SMSC – spiritual, social, moral, social and cultural development. Also suitable for Science Communicators, medical students, nurses and health workers.

Length: 60 minutes

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

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

Synopsis

People Are Messy tells the story of 18-year-old Jake, a spiky, opinionated A level student, and Vik also 18, a laid-back, cheerful apprentice electrician. Both have a rare blood disease, aplastic anaemia and their consultant is Adam, – bright, self-assured, driven – whose research has been turned down for funding because he didn’t sufficiently demonstrate involvement of patients and the public in his plans – a pre-requisite of Department of Health funding for medical research.

Adam then recruits his longterm patient Vik to be an adviser knowing Vik will be an easy-going ally, but when Vik then recruits combative Jake, Adam finds himself challenged. The two inevitably clash, with an exasperated Vik caught in the middle.

Meanwhile, Adam’s 15-year-old daughter Jen (thoughtful, with a wry sense of humour) is writing a song to perform at her school end of term concert. The song is dedicated to her mum, who died when Jen was just a few days old. Jen is going through a difficult time as her gran, who has helped bring her up alongside Adam, has gone off on around the world trip. Adam, always working or in the lab, is not at home as often as Jen would wish and the quirky vlogs she receives from gran are not enough to give her the support she needs. Things come to a head when Adam is called away from the end of term concert just as Jen is about to perform her song…

Characters

Jake, played by Ross McCormack is 18 years old and in his final year studying A levels. He is intelligent, driven, political, a charismatic born leader and, some might say, a touch on the arrogant side. Given to talking in long, over-intellectual, unpunctuated sentences.

Vik is also 18 and is an apprentice electrician. Vik is charming, cheeky and gets on well with everyone. He is the oldest son of a large family and plans to have loads of kids himself, one day.

Jen is 15 years old. She is Adam’s daughter. Jen is thoughtful and kind-hearted with a wry sense of humour. She is in Year 11, studying GCSEs

Adam is in his mid-30s and is a Clinician and Researcher in Haematology. Adam is stubborn, self-assured, driven. He likes a bit of banter but finds it difficult to talk about his feelings

Gran is in her late 50s/early 60s. She is Jen’s Gran and Adam’s Mum. Gran is quirky with a down to earth sense of humour. She has a love for and curiosity about life, at the same time she is a nurturing and caring person. Gran appears in the play on film in Skype links from her travels.

“I am extremely keen to host the Theatre of Debate team at my school for your new People Are Messy production. After the performance and debate last year of Hungry, there was a noticeable shift in students’ attitudes towards science and we went on to achieve the best results in the college’s history, beating national averages also for the first time. However, the challenges of teaching our students remain daunting and hosting these events helps enormously with student engagement, not just within science but also with wider society.”Laurence Hampton

“…clearly the performance is linked to science. It’s stuff we do talk about in the current GCSE curriculum. We talk about drugs testing, and it kind of links into the whole idea of research, ethics and SMSC – which is having a massive push in schools at the moment.”

“The People are Messy film portrays a true reflection of the many emotions that patients, carers, health care professionals, family and acquaintances go through when a single member of that unit is diagnosed with a critical illness. The actors were brilliant and plausible, showing and expressing raw emotion. They did a splendid job. I hope the whole nation gets a chance to watch it.”

“Today a young woman came into clinic to hear she has a new diagnosis of aplastic anaemia. I found myself wishing Jake and Vik were real and I could put her in touch with them. That’s how real they felt in the play. And it made me see her very differently, this patient. It’s not me who gave her the diagnosis today, but if it had been, I really think that consultation would have been influenced by my having read that play. Powerful stuff.”

Developed in partnership with

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC),

A partnership of OUH NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Oxford

Created in collaboration with

Professor John Cleland Professor of Cardiology, Imperial College London

Imelda Coyne, Professor of Children’s Nursing in the School of Nursing & Midwifery,TrinityCollege Dublin, Ireland

Simon Denegri, Chair of INVOLVE and National Director for Public Participation and Engagement in Research

Lester Firkins OBE, PPI advisor

Dr. Louise Locock, Deputy Research Director, Health Experiences Research Group

Dr Sophie Petit-Zeman, Director of Patient Involvement in Research, Oxford UniversityBiomedical Research Centre; Scientific Adviser, Theatre of Debate

Jenny Preston, NIHR Medicines for Children Research Network

Caroline Struthers, Education and Training Manager, EQUATOR Network

Maryrose Tarpey, Assistant Director of the INVOLVE Coordinating Centre

Philippa Yeeles, Head of Patient and Public Involvement, NIHR Central Commissioning Facility

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