Social Responsibility

Learning Through Performance

Tue, 19 Jul 2016 09:37:00 BST

“Regenerating the future” is a play supported by the Wellcome trust ISSF public engagement funding. It was designed to engage and inspire an audience who may know nothing about the on-going research at the Centre for Tissue Injury and Repair (TIR) in the Institute of Inflammation and Repair. It aimed to leave the public with a greater knowledge about the research of the centre and a desire to learn more. To this end, at the end of each performance the audience was able to meet the researchers of the Centre for TIR and were invited to share their experience via social media @RegenFuture; #RegenFuture.

The play is the result of a common effort from academics, clinical lecturers, professional support staff, research fellows and students (PhD and masters) at the Centre TIR, all contributing at the different stages of its development (from the funding application to delivery of performances, through to writing the play and set up both performance and filming teams).

The play was written by the award winning play writer Laura Harper, who is a PSS member of staff at the Centre TIR, directed by Alyx Tole, and performed by Joyce Branagh (aka the Professor with the blue hairs) and Frances Tither (aka the women from the past).

The play was a 30 minute piece packed with audience participation, humour and some very inventive uses for Jaffa Cakes, as means to explain the research work.

Laura Harper said: “Science is a language which academics learn to speak in. As the writer of the piece and a layman my biggest challenge was get scientists talking in plain, non-scientific English. I learned quickly that when you ask them to translate into the common tongue, it generally pulls them out of their comfort zone. Since I was pulling scientists into the alien environment of theatre, I thought it was only fair to pull the general public into a lecture theatre, so that they could at least meet halfway.”

The play was site specific and set in a lecture theatre. The audience become interactive students under the watchful eye of Professor Brown. The ‘lecture’ is set 25 years in a graphene-enabled future and is centred around the history of regenerative medicine. As a ‘learning support’, the Professor has borrowed a cryogenically frozen woman (Angela) from the past (2016).

Two performances took place in Manchester South Hospital and Manchester Central Hospital, each time in a lecture theatre, bringing current research to patients and their family, carers, and healthcare professionals. It also attracted representative of the PRIMER group, at the University of Manchester, a group developed for Public and Patient Involvement in Research. The play has since been filmed (BrickHouse). Soon the edited, finished product will be distributed to those who were unable to come and see the play live. There is consideration to extending the run of the show to performce to 6th form students at colleges.

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