On a hilltop in Galway, staff are working around the clock. They make tea. They paint nails. They refill syringe drivers. Some pray. Some don’t. Everyone they care for is dying.
WillFredd Theatre’s CARE gives audiences an insight into the day-to-day world of hospice staff. Developed over a year spent in consultation with Irish hospices, CARE fuses movement, live music and theatre, celebrating the people who help you live until you die. Every word, sound and image in CARE is drawn from daily hospice life. A lot of work and attention to detail has been put in to make sure that CARE show audiences something that they won’t have seen before.
“It’s a very interesting play and it’s also a very unique play. We don’t often see plays and theatre that deal directly with what it’s like to work in a hospice and to work with palliative care so it was an opportunity to do something unique,” explains Galway actor Paul Curley.
“The show was created over a long period of time with many different engagements with hospices in Dublin and around the country. The creative team would meet with hospice staff and talk about what it’s like working in palliative care. It was a long process of informal meetings as well as sitting in on what it’s like when staff might be on their break. They might talk through the admissions procedure, right through the whole process of caring for people as well as dealing with families. Then getting an insight from people who work in hospices like physiotherapists and occupational therapists, social workers, consultants, staff nurses, to get a really broad and well-rounded idea of what is going on in the workings of a hospice,” says Paul.
The production is headed for Galway on Friday 6 May, as part of a national tour supported by Age & Opportunity, as part of the Bealtaine Festival, which celebrates creativity as we age. As well as touring the show to theatres, Dublin theatre company WillFredd will also be visiting hospices, interacting with hospice staff in each area, presenting them with snippets of the show and inviting their feedback to what they see and hear.
“Some of the experiences of just being out in Blanchardstown and being in other hospices in Dublin, the staff are amazingly supportive and very open and very interested to know what the play is going to be like and how it’s going to be presented on stage.”
Artists work with patients at many hospices, he adds. “It’s not unusual for actors or artists to be engaged with hospice staff. Often they will work with musicians or visual artists or painters or filmmakers so the people who work in hospices will be very aware of the benefits of the crossover with palliative care and the creative arts,” says Paul.
Suitable for audiences aged 14 and over, CARE is a show with a wide appeal. “It’s a multi-faceted show in many respects. There is music, there’s a beautiful set design and it’s very modern,” says Paul, adding audiences can expect quite an abstract story about what it’s like to work in a hospice, and what palliative care involves.
“It can be sometimes beyond people’s understanding or experience, because you don’t deal with hospices unless your family have been directly affected by it. So this is really an insight into life inside the highs and lows.”
WillFredd Theatre’s CARE is on in the Town Hall Theatre on Friday 6 May with doors at 8pm. Tickets cost €15/€12 and can be bought online at www.tht.ie, by visiting the Town Hall box office or calling 091-569777. This performance is audio described and captioned. When booking, ask for seats suitable for viewing the captions, or reserve your headset for audio description.
For more on the Bealtaine Festival, visit www.bealtaine.com