Staff stories brought to life by actors for performances in hospital during community arts festival

Friday, 17 October 2014

The memories of staff are to be dramatised by actors during a community arts festival at Southmead Hospital Bristol this week.

Staff at Frenchay and Southmead hospitals worked with oral historian Mary Ingoldby to capture their stories and memories before, during and after the move into the new Brunel building.

Show of Strength theatre producer and director Sheila Hannon has worked on turning the stories into dramatic monologues which will be performed by actors at locations around the hospital on Saturday.

They include a piece by lead emergency department consultant Kirsten Jones, which will be performed in A&E and a porter’s recollections of transferring a patient from Frenchay Hospital to the Brunel building, which will be acted out near the main entrance to the new hospital.

Actor Kirsty Cox meets Emergency department lead consultant Kirsten Jones, whose words she will be performing at Southmead Hospital BristolThere are a nurse’s recollections of the spirit of the Frenchay A&E and how it is continuing into the emergency department of the Brunel, which is being performed in the hospital’s Sanctuary Quiet Room; as well as the thoughts of a patient waiting for a procedure and enjoying the view from his new single room in the Brunel.

Dr Jones met with Kirsty Cox, the actor performing her monologue So Anyway, during rehearsals in the emergency department.

She said the process started with being asked to write about her memories of Frenchay Hospital.

“I wanted to try and reflect what it meant to the staff in the emergency department,” she said.

“I wanted to get across how we are a team and help each other and how that resilience and team bonding helps us get through some difficult things.”

Of seeing Kirsty rehearsing her monologue in the emergency department,  Dr Jone said: “It was rather spooky to hear her say my words.”

Kirsty Cox, the actor who will be performing in the emergency department, said: “It’s great to be performing in this space.

“It has also been interesting to meet Kirsten. As an actor it is not often that you get to play a real person who you can also meet.”

Photographer Simona Pianteri was also involved in the project, taking photographs which have gone on display in the hospital alongside some of the quotes from the staff stories.

Producer Sheila Hannon said: “This has been a hugely exciting and innovative project.  The result is eight fantastic, real life dramas straight from the heart of Frenchay and Southmead hospitals. 

“Saturday's audiences can expect to laugh and cry - and all emotions in between - as well as to see the fascinating Brunel Building.”

The Fresh Arts Festival is running at Southmead Hospital Bristol for three days from Thursday, October 16.  

The community event has been organised to encourage local people to come in and see their new hospital.

As well as the Frenchmead performances on Saturday, there will be singing from community choirs, and live music on wards and waiting areas. There will also be a writer in residence speaking to patients and visitors and turning their words into poems which will be printed by Bristol’s Spike Print Studio, which will be set up in the atrium of the Brunel building during the festival.

Knitting workshops have been held with patients and staff in the hospital and local community groups over the last few months and their work features in a giant jumper installation that was unveiled at the Brunel during the three-day festival.

There is a preview of Frenchmead at 4.30pm today (Friday, October 17) by the League of Friends Cafe in the Brunel building, Southmead Hospital Bristol.

There will then be performances at 11am, 11.40am, 1.40pm and 3pm in the emergency department, The Sanctuary, Gate 18, the main entrance, by the Pharmacy, in The Sanctuary Quiet Room.

There will also be performances at 3.20pm at Gate 18 and the main entrance.

Performances will be held at 3.40pm and 4.20pm by the League of Friends Cafe and by the Pharmacy.

There will be performances at 4pm and 4.40pm in The Sanctuary Quiet Room and The Sanctuary.

For more information about the Fresh Arts Festival visit