‘Fighting for Life’ – Claire Craig brings award winning play to Sheffield

Fighting for Life @ The Crucible Theatre

On Monday 13thMay Lab4Living hosted award winning playwright Brian Daniels’ play ‘Fighting for Life’ at the Crucible Theatre. The play is based on the experiences of the Findlay family as they cared for their parents at the end of their lives.

The play very much highlights the role of the arts in giving voice to individuals and making visible situations that might otherwise be hidden. The play was timed to coincide with Dying Matters week, a national movement that aims to enable open conversation about the often little spoken about topics of end of life care and bereavement.

Fighting for Life

The performance ended with a panel discussion, which included Helen Findlay and her sister Margot, Professor Bill Noble former Medical Director of Marie Curie and Professor Paul Chamberlain, Head of Art and Design Research and Co-Director of Lab4Living.

'Fighting for Life' panel discussion

Panel discussion

‘Fighting for Life’ panel discussion with Bill Noble, Paul Chamberlain, Helen Findlay and Margot Findlay

Dr. Claire Craig who co-ordinated the events of the day first encountered the play ‘Fighting for Life’ when she was invited by Marie Curie to sit on an after play panel discussion at the Hampstead Hospice. Claire and colleague Helen Fisher were involved at the time in a funded piece of research called ‘Design to Care’ that explored the role of design and the arts in understanding, re-envisioning and reshaping what end of life care might be. Speaking of the play performed in Hampstead, Claire says:

“I was immediately struck by the power of the performance in raising and exploring key issues. The experience stayed with me and I endeavoured to bring it to Sheffield. I am thrilled that there has been the opportunity to do this and that so many people have heard the key messages it contains.”

The play was attended by members of the public, healthcare workers and students, and researchers. Audience members responded to the simplicity of the production, which allowed the powerful story to come across clearly.

One audience member noted that the play articulated:

“….the Findlay family’s emotional ordeal due to poor communication between the multidisciplinary teams.
It highlighted how large an impact poor palliative care can have on the family.”

One health care worker noted:

“It influenced me to speak more openly and honestly about death within my role”

while another said:

“We need to address the essentials of basic nursing care in care homes and hospitals.”

The play is also a powerful tool for enriching the learning experience of students in health and allied care, allowing them to reflect about care. As one attendee said:

“More students need to see this production. It is authentic, powerfully and an essential experience.”