PRESS RELEASE - JULY 2006
An extraordinary and moving event is set to arrive in the empty wards and departments of the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital on the 5 and 6 August 2006.
ONE LAST LOOK, a collaboration between Talking Birds, the Centre for the History of Medicine at the University of Warwick, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, and Coventry University, is a weekend of theatre, exhibitions, and workshops to mark the closing of Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital.
Background The Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital dates its foundation from 1838 when three doctors were appointed to look after one ward of twelve beds. In July this year, having outgrown its site in the city centre, the hospital will relocate to the new University Hospital on the outskirts of the city. A significant moment for Coventry, the old hospital will be open for one last look at the wards, corridors and operating theatres that have held the stories of thousands of local people. ONE LAST LOOK is produced by the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital Project, which has conducted research on the history of the hospital, focussing on the post-war period. The Project has salvaged objects from the hospital site and conducted oral history interviews with current and former staff and patients. ONE LAST LOOK is the culminating event of the project, and includes:
An exhibition: ‘Sites of Memory‘ where such interviews and objects are displayed. Molly Rogers, project co-ordinator, said “History isn’t just about what happened one hundred years ago – history is what is happening today and how this relates to the past. The memories and experiences of staff and patients that we have recorded have contributed to our understanding of what the hospital has meant to the region, as well as how healthcare has changed in recent years. The Project has also been a great way to recognise the dedication of the men and women who, over the years, have cared for our friends and families.”
Theatre: Talking Birds will perform a specially created show ‘Three Doctors’ where audiences will be taken in groups of twelve on a journey through the deserted building accompanied by voices, music, and the ghosts of doctors Arrowsmith, Bourne, and Mellor. Nick Walker, writer and performer with Talking Birds said, “A walk through an empty hospital is in itself quite an extraordinary experience, but we hope to heighten this by allowing forgotten stories to drift into the audience’s path.”
Workshops: The event will also offer interactive workshops for children of all ages, including opportunities to learn about the history of medicine by handling medical instruments used at the hospital, and to explore the future of medicine by making a necklace of your own DNA!
The partners The Centre for the History of Medicine at the University of Warwick is an active group of scholars teaching and researching in the history of medicine. One of the Centre’s aims is to engage the local community and the public at large with the history of medicine as a discipline relevant to contemporary concerns, and to do so in creative and innovative ways.Coventry-based Talking Birds specialises in theatre in unusual spaces with previous performance pieces having taken place in car-parks, monasteries, and on beaches. The company has been working in the UK and abroad since 1992 and its theatre work has toured from Slovakia to Seattle; its film work has been screened at festivals from Edinburgh to Volgograd and its web work has active participants from across the globe. For more information visit ONE LAST LOOK is at the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital, Stoney Stanton Road, Coventry, on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 August, 11am – 4pm. Performances of ‘Three Doctors’ will perform on the half hour. Tickets are free.