One of the most important books ever written about General Practice in Britain, A Fortunate Man - The Story of a Country Doctor, by John Berger, is being translated into a new theatre piece by East Midlands based New Perspectives Theatre Company.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the book, and next year's 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS, New Perspectives is examining the connection between doctor, patient and the community at a time when GP's are quitting at a rate of 150 a month. The findings will be translated into a new theatre piece bringing to life for the first time, on stage, Berger's book.
A Fortunate Man is a timely reminder of just how unique, and valuable, British general practice is. Has anything changed for the better since Dr Sassall singlehandedly cared for his patients in the Forest of Dean? If Berger were writing A Fortunate Man today - what would he find?
A Fortunate Man is a work of social observation and medical philosophy. Arguably, no other book has offered such a close and passionate investigation of the roles doctors play in their society.
As part of New Perspectives' commitment to supporting and nurturing new talent, the final play will be assembled by aspiring writers, performers and designers from across the East Midlands who applied to be part of the project. Under the supervision of Nottingham theatre-maker Michael Pinchbeck, they will spend time in doctor's surgeries absorbing conversations and the atmosphere in waiting rooms. The material gathered from their conversations will inform the final performances which will be staged in July.
The artists chosen from across the region, are:
Designer: Lizzie Bettsworth (Leicestershire)
Writers and performers: Ryan Chadwick (Derbyshire), Olwen Davies (Nottingham), Ed Roberts (Leicestershire), Laura Ryder (Derby), Kieran Spiers (Lincoln) & Suzanne Reynolds (Derbyshire)
Artists: Mark Elmore (Leicestershire), Susana Fernandez (Nottingham), Jo Firenze (Nottingham) Mira Ho (Nottingham), Holly Jackson (Leicestershire), Jess Thomas (Leicestershire).
Jack McNamara, New Perspectives' Artistic Director, said: "Berger's death earlier this year was a huge loss to our culture, not only in the art world but much further afield. It feels a crucial time to re-examine this important work, particularly at a time when the future of the NHS is under such scrutiny. We're really excited to be working with so many new writers and artists, giving them a platform to showcase their talents while, at the same time, challenging ourselves to make a different kind of theatre."
Ahead of the performances in July, you can follow the progress of the project over on our EP blog space.