Theatre of Children in Hospital - The Gift of Compassion

Persephone Sextou (MA Contemporary Theatre Practice, 1992) uses mixed research methodology to help children in hospital.

My enthusiasm and passion about of theatre in the community emerged during my time at Lancaster. My experience with The Dukes in local schools, the knowledge of my tutors and the vibrant intellectual discussions about theatre in the department facilitated some eye-opening opportunities that helped me to explore the role of the arts outside the black box and the complexities of taking theatre in non-traditional theatrical venues.  One of the many things that I learned is that knowing through theatre needs to be shared. 

Since then and over the years, my doctorate studies on applied theatre and my passion for Greek philosophy led me to develop a holistic, symbiotic and eudaemonic approach to theatre, children and vulnerable individuals. The outcome of this inspiration enabled a collaboration of ideas between two cultures, the artistic and the clinical, the artist who interferes in hospital and the audience who are the "residents" in the kingdom of illness. To this end, I recently published my monograph  "Theatre for Children in Hospital. The Gift of Compassion" with Intellect (Dec. 2016). The book presents findings from my research at Newman University in Birmingham in collaboration with NHS Trusts over a period of six years. It details the theoretical contexts and practical features of theatre for children in healthcare, the benefits of this approach to children and the ethics of audience participation in confined spaces. The heart of the book analyses examples of bedside theatre practice and real incidents in hospitals in a lively tone. It includes quotes from film recordings and transcripts, dialogues between the child and the actor in performance, that developed moment-by-moment in the safety of the dramatic. From my visits to schools as a Lancaster student 26 years ago to this book, one thing has never changed -  my thirst to participate ethically and respectfully in the lives of those who suffer through Theatre.