Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
This article from The Guardian takes a look at an emerging school of thought called “Performing Medicine” that couples medical training with dance and theatre. It mentions how it can often be “‘quite hard to get doctors to realise there’s an art to medicine… Because to some extent it’s been pummelled out by science.'” So St Thomas’ hospital in London has begun implementing a program that will train doctors and nurses in a physical theatre style. This will bring a type of reality to their training that goes beyond medical knowledge to help incorporate a necessary level of compassion when dealing with patients, and to teach improvisation skills as they deal with realistic medical emergencies. St. Thomas’ Dr Peter Jaye who works for the Simulation and Interactive Learning Centre (SaIL) says that “the most important thing theatre and dance techniques can impart in training is humanity.”
Along with this program for doctors and nurses, they are also reaching out to patients by bringing art to them. They bring dance into the hospital room for the patients to get an up-close and personal artistic experience. The article states that: “There is a growing body of evidence that artistic interventions can be beneficial for patients” and that the “close proximity of the audience, their lack of expectations and, most poignantly, performing in a place where people are acutely aware of their own bodies, adds up to something profound.”
I love this initiative and I look forward to the day we really start to see this kind of collaboration between art and science become standard. Hospitals can often feel sterile and scary, especially for children. This could change the way that we think about medicine and how we interact with medical professionals. It brings a whole new meaning to art as a healing force and really opens the door for creative placemaking.