Free Oldham Coliseum play celebrates heroism, courage and humanity of healthcare workers

'This is a story of how real people become heroes; but recognising that all heroes need their time to process, reflect and heal'

Real-life stories of healthcare workers are explored in Dare to Know Theatre’s new play A Broken Family, Together, created with support from Oldham Coliseum Theatre.

One of the Coliseum’s Micro Commissions 2021, the play is the culmination of words said by healthcare professionals working at The Royal Oldham Hospital looking back over the coronavirus pandemic.

With the help of Wendy Clapham, Assistant Director of Nursing Services for Critical Care at the hospital – who received a BEM for Services to Nursing in the Queen’s New Year Honours list – Dare to Know interviewed the team at the hospital with a view to celebrate and document the dedication and heroism that nurses, doctors, porters, managers, volunteers and more have shown throughout the crisis.

Written by Jake Talbot and directed by Miranda Parker, the interviews are presented as the stories of three nurses, performed by actors Julie Edwards, Sam Power and Kimberley Hart-Simpson.

“This is a story of how real people become heroes; but recognising that all heroes need their time to process, reflect and heal,” said Jake and Miranda.

“We feel that this project can capture this moment in history.

“We hope it will echo the feelings inside hospitals around the country.”

Dare to Know Theatre are an emerging theatre company from Oldham with a commitment to creating new and thought-provoking work.

Writer and performer Jake Talbot and dramaturg Miranda Parker formed the company in early 2020, with a rough but productive first year of action, following postponements and cancellations of their debut play, Drowning, which will play on the Coliseum stage in July.

Exploring themes of health and wellbeing, local stories or work for and with young people from Oldham, the Coliseum’s Micro Commissions 2021 respond to the world as we live in it today, over a year on from the beginning of the pandemic.

Previously released Angel of History from digital artist Grant Archer in collaboration with ballerina Nicky Hensall, actor Shobna Gulati and composer Akshay Gulati is a moving short film exploring what it has meant to be a performer during the pandemic; A Brew, A Terrace and the 184 from Bog Standard Creatives is a tale of growing up in a poverty loop in Oldham; Joyce Branagh’s audio play The Newcomer is the joyful true story of Sophie Wild, a WWII survivor who came to Oldham aged 12 and found acceptance, a calling, and love; and Tori Burgess’s audio drama A Tale of Two Giants is based on the Saddleworth folk tale of Alphin and Alder.

Further commissioned pieces will be released throughout May: Caitlin Gleeson’s One Foot In Front of the Other – exploring health and wellbeing through the lens of walking; and the online culmination event of Jade Williams’s creativity and wellbeing project for young people inspired by Black British history, Pablo Fanque’s Fantastic Fair.

All Oldham Coliseum Micro Commissions 2021 are free to access, however the theatre asks that audiences consider making a donation to help them support more great artists to create new work.

A Broken Family, Together is available to view for free on the Coliseum’s website and YouTube channel. 


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