Back in November I wrote a blog about our emerging collaboration with Theatre of Debate – a play about Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) aimed at 14-16 year olds that will tour schools nationwide early next year, be filmed for cinema screenings and shown to public audiences in Oxford and elsewhere.
As I said there, “This could be a real game-changer for PPI – a dramatic boost.” And now I have seen the first draft of the script, I am even more sure this will be true.
The selected playwright, Judith Johnson, has impeccable credentials – those of you as old as me may remember Grange Hill, for which she wrote, as well as more recently for the prestigious National Theatre Connections. She has crafted a beautiful and incredibly moving play that pulls together so many of the strands of PPI that vex and challenge us, alongside those that seem, well, sort of obvious, but somehow often still need to be set out.
You can read more about the steps that led to creation of the play in INVOLVE’s new summer newsletter:
The play is called “People are Messy” – a direct quote from Simon Denegri, Chair of INVOLVE and National Director for Public Participation and Engagement in Research, who is on the play’s advisory group and used this phrase at the workshop described in the article. The other folk who are helping Judith and will in due course support the actors and rest of the theatre company as they set about casting, rehearsing and getting to know the subject area, as well as creating resources for schools, are:
- Imelda Coyne, Professor of Children’s Nursing in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland;
- John Cleland, Professor of Cardiology, Imperial College London/cardiology consultant, Royal Brompton Hospital;
- Lester Firkins, former chair, James Lind Alliance/carer;
- Louise Locock, OxBRC Health Experience Research Fellow/Director of Applied Research, Health Experiences Research Group;
- Jenny Preston, Consumer liaison manager, NIHR Medicines for Children Research Network;
- Caroline Struthers, patient, carer, Education and Training manager for the EQUATOR network;
- Maryrose Tarpey, Assistant Director, INVOLVE;
- Philippa Yeeles, Head of Patient and Public Involvement , NIHR Central Commissioning Facility.
As ever with Theatre of Debate’s work, this group was set up to ensure that a range of views about PPI were represented, not just those of the converted or the naysayers, and all will need to agree on the accuracy of the script before it is finalised.
I look forward to that point, but even now the script already sets up several brilliant dramatic tussles. As I was saying to my (medic) brother at the weekend, I suspect some people won’t like it because it’s too close to the bone; I have visions of senior researchers with traditional views who find PPI a pointless chore storming out in high dudgeon. But he just sagely replied, quoting Hamlet: “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”