Medical and mental health professionals often find they need to provide basic self-care information to clients and their families. When this information is delivered through traditional lecture methods, a lot of information goes “in one ear and out the other,” but when presented through drama with human stories and emotions attached to the facts, the information makes sense.
Kaiser Permanente, a major HMO, for many years has had professional theatre troupes in different regions of the country tour original plays on HIV/AIDS, violence prevention, and other issues to schools and community groups. Stop-Gap Theatre of Orange County, California, also tours plays that deal with important issues and involves students in workshops and discussions afterwards.
SafeHome, a prevention and intervention non-profit in Kansas City, has a teen acting troupe which each year tours a play on dating violence and sexually responsible behavior, which they take on tour to high schools. These are but a few of the many examples of troupes making medical and mental health issues accessible in a live, dynamic format.
One of the most interesting projects in this vein came out of the Psychosocial and Behavioural Research Unit at Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre in Toronto, Canada. Doctors, researchers, writers, and actors came together to create a new kind of research report: a dramatized one! They began with focus groups of women who had metastatic breast cancer, and separate focus groups made up of their family members and of their medical care-givers. The focus groups were recorded, transcribed, and used as a basis for improvisations about the experience of living with metastatic breast cancer. The resulting play Handle with Care? and a later project on prostate cancer No Big Deal? toured throughout Canada for several years. Both plays capture the confusion, frustration, and fears generated by these diseases and offer supportive suggestions of “do’s and don’ts” for patients, family, friends, and medical personnel alike.
© Copyright Sally D. Bailey, Registered Drama Therapist. All Rights Reserved.