Guest post from Theatre of Debate

Nigel Townsend, Director and Founder, Theatre of Debate

Things I Couldn’t Tell You

A suite of films, commissioned by Dr Anna Middleton, Head of Society and Ethics at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and broadly inspired by the ongoing ABC versus St Georges legal case are now live.

ABC versus St Georges was the first case in English law to deal with a relative’s claim over issues of genetic responsibility – for these monologues the characters and the dialogue have been fictionalised by playwright Nicola Baldwin.

The films take the form of five monologues, each one representing the voice of the different parties involved; the family, the clinician and the legal professional, revealing their varying perspectives over a period of eighteen years. A woman discovers, after giving birth, that her mother carried the gene for Huntington’s disease, a degenerative, incurable brain condition. Later she found out she had inherited the gene and that her own son, has a 50% chance of having it. The woman says she would have had an abortion had she known about her Mother’s condition and is suing the doctors who failed to tell her about the risks she and her child faced. Should there be a right to be informed about a family member’s genetic disorder?

Watch all of the films now on the Theatre of Debate’s new website here.

The Society and Ethics Research group will use the films to research into UK public attitudes towards Doctors’ duties towards patients and their families in the genomic era.

Written by Nicola Baldwin, produced by Nigel Townsend/Theatre of Debate for Dr  Anna Midleton. Head of Society and Ethics at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

“This case raises complex and sensitive issues in respect of the competing interests between the duty of care and the duty of confidentiality. It will be for the court to adjudicate on those issues during the trial.” – Spokesperson, St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust

From the Dentist’s Chair

‘From the Dentist’s Chair’ by Jonathan Hall consists of five episodes, each one featuring a different character. Set in West Yorkshire, the action revolves round a dentist’s surgery just before Christmas and directly after the new year. One of the characters has died as a result of the misuse of antibiotics. Watch the first four episodes and try to guess which character has met with an unfortunate end and why, before watching episode 5, where all will be revealed.

  1. Meet Penny – it’s 21st December and she’s got toothache and she doesn’t have time for it – not with Christmas looming. She’s in a right strop, her appointment was supposed to be half an hour ago, but it sounds like Frank (that’s her dentist) is having an argument with someone in her surgery – if she has to wait much longer she might miss her nephew’s nativity play…
  2. Meet Raghu – it’s 21st December and Raghu is in a really good mood – he loves the holiday season because he love’s partying and tonight it’s AJ’s party, which according to AJ is going to be hot, hot, hot; and not only that, on Christmas Day he’s flying to Mumbai for the new year – see the folks. There’s Just one small problem – his wisdom tooth…
  3. Meet Ellie – Ellie is not feeling in a festive mood – for a start her toothache is giving her quite a bit of grief – and secondly, she knows she’s in for an argument with Frank. Why? Well that’s for you to find out, but let’s just say Frank has never been one for listening, especially not to a silver surfer.
  4. Meet the Junior Dentist – It’s Sharon’s first day back at work after the new year and she’s had one big shock

Also available in podcast format.

Written by Jonathan Hall, produced by Nigel Townsend/Theatre of Debate for Dr Wendy Thompson and Prof Sue Pavitt . This research project was funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) (Doctoral Research Fellowship) Mrs Wendy Thompson and supported by NIHR infrastructure at Leeds. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the department of health and social care.

“Working with Theatre of Debate was a fantastic way to help access, understand and address the emotional issues underpinning people’s beliefs relating to antibiotics and dentistry. The micro-dramas which evolved from the co-production theatre workshops have been really well received by healthcare professionals and members of the public alike.” – Dr Wendy Thompson, Academic Dentist, Leeds University

This post is reproduced with the permission of Theatre of Debate. For more on the background research and to view the original article, visit the Theatre of Debate website.
If you would like to know more either about this project or about commissioning your own monologue drama please email Nigel at