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The Last Women take to the 'stage'

A collaborative research project between The Centre for the History of Medicine and the Triangle Theatre Company draws to a close with performances at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre this week.

Dr Norwood Andrews of The Centre for the History of Medicine has worked with Triangle to help produce 'The Last Women', inspired by the histories of Mary Ball, hanged in Coventry in 1849, and Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in Britain in 1955.

The performance is the culmination of a project that has brought together historical research with improvisational enquiry in a series of formal and informal events and interactions between a company of seven actors, experts, young people, and other members of the public.

Triangle have utilised their 'Immersive Theatre Technique' in which participants use museum collections – archives and artefacts – and historic locations as springboards for the development of character in the creation of an environment in which to become ‘immersed’ in the material.

The audience inhabit the setting and are part of it but are not required to do anything except witness the performance itself, which contemplates the hour of death through the stories of the condemned women.

Dr Andrews was directly involved in the production, undertaking historical research into medicine and public execution and will evaluate the interaction between historical research and Immersive Museum Theatre as a route for public engagement within the history of medicine.

The structure for the development of The Last Women takes inspiration from the ancient Sumerian myth of Inanna and her descent into the Underworld, through seven different gateways, each of which asked that she surrender something of her power.

The research process was split into seven thematic modules based on these gateways, covering Authority; Health, Safety, Creativity; Incarceration; Death and Taboo; Criminality and Personal Power; Language and Politics; and The Underworld.

Under the artistic direction of Carran Waterfield, Triangle has eighteen years of experience of working within education, professional theatre, and museum settings, and an international reputation in this area of performance.

Tickets for the performances, which run until the 25th April and contain some nudity and strong language, are available from the Belgrade Theatre website.