On Wednesday, 7 June, the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital Project presented Twelve Beds, a site-specific dance event that was developed and took place in the hospital.
Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital opened in 1840 with twelve beds and three doctors. Twelve Beds celebrated the history of the Hospital using information gathered from archives, interviews with staff and patients, and the hospital site itself.
Twelve Beds explored how dance material founded on the past can inform the future, how the human body stores its own history and how this can manifest itself in dance, and how the silent dancer can represent untold as well as spoken histories.
The performance was created on the site over three days and presented four times - twice during the day, while the hospital was fully operational, with staff, visitors and patients passing through the performance; and twice in the evening to an invited audience, which included oral history respondents. The performers dedicated the work to all the people who passed through the site during the development of the work.
Twelve Beds was directed by Cecilia Macfarlane and Sarah Whatley, and choreographed and performed by David Bennett, Andrea Berry, Kath Kimber-McTiffen, Cecilia Macfarlane, Sean Martin, Alice Read, Sarah Whatley. Original music was composed and played by Emily Levy and Frank Moon.
The artists thank Lucy Callender, Louise Smith, Liz Thiebe, and all staff, patients and visitors to the hospital who were affected by the rehearsal period.
“You’d have to be on your toes” (hospital cleaner)
“The nurses, if their dresses was a bit short, she’d pull the hem down” (hospital cleaner)
“Another time nurse, remember you don’t run, you walk” (nurse)
“Coventry was third on the list for the building of a new hospital after the war. Charing Cross was number one, I forget what number two was, but Coventry was third, so this was the great bait” (consultant)
“Don’t say you can’t, say ‘I can’” (nurse)