Friday, 6 May 2011

'Turning Poison into Medicine'

Turning Poison into Medicine (original title, Living with HIV in the UK) is a piece of verbatim theatre, which is a form where the words of the people represented on stage are faithfully recorded and structured into a narrative which is presented to an audience in the form of a play.

The Third Year St. Mary’s University College Applied Theatre students gathered stories for a play in Malawi in May 2011 as a part of their workplacement with the charity Theatre for a Change.

Working with the UK charity, Positive East, in January 2010, the students gathered stories of living with HIV in the UK. These interviews were transcribed, edited and adapted for the stage. Performances were given at St. Mary's University in February 2010 and in Lilongwe in May. Several of those interviewed were in the audience in February at St. Mary’s and participated in the post-show feedback session. The play was performed outside of a school in Lilongwe, Malawi to a captive audience and was very well received by both Theatre for a Change and their learners.

Whilst the students were in Malawi, they gathered stories for their return performance of 'Living with HIV in Malawi.' This play consisted of verbatim stories of women living with HIV in Malawi and was performed upon return to London in May.

The play was later filmed at Nickelodeon studios in central London to be distributed by MTV as a part of the HIV awareness programme. There are also plans to distribute it in student film festivals. The second part of the play, Living with HIV in Malawi, was performed to a packed audience at the Waldegrave Drawing Room at St. Mary’s upon return from Malawi in May 2011.

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