Feature: Doing the Rounds with junior doctors

“You see a lot of TV shows about doctors, and the glamorised idea of what people think they do. I actually wanted to know and show people what they really do.”

Rounds is a devised theatre piece based around true stories told by junior doctors, created by the Resuscitate Theatre Company and led by Lecoq trained Director Anna Marshall.

Being such a hot topic in the news at the moment, it is sure to hit home as it tackles such themes as where the NHS is heading and the current pressure on junior doctors and the medical industry.

“It’s been interesting for me to meet junior doctors and interview them, as well as having many doctors fill in my survey and tell me their experiences. I have learnt so much about what they do and what goes on behind what we see, it’s been so eye opening.”

Marshall had in-depth interviews and one on ones with six junior doctors as well as having two junior doctors sit in on the first few days of rehearsals to gain knowledge of what constitutes a ‘day in the life of a junior doctor’. “They were flattered that people found their lives interesting enough to make a play about it. Which was funny to me as what they do is incredible.”

Diving in to the vast platform that is medicine the Resuscitate Theatre Company had a lot to work with. “There was a great book we read called, ‘Trust me I’m a junior doctor’ and partnered with the first-hand information and stories from the doctors we interviewed, we had so much to explore.”

The cast created the piece from scratch, without a script. The actors had to grow and explore ideas together and the only prerequisite was that the story had to be based on true events. “With the two doctors in rehearsals we really got to see what moves doctors made in every day life at the hospital, and this helped us so we didn’t look like ER or Holby City. We were following first year doctors, and with them being first years they are not perfect and at times they mess up, and this is a theme we explore a lot in the show. Showing the highs and lows of what they go through,”

“This has been one of the most interesting processes for me, working with no script and having to create work on the spot. We learnt about certain procedures to help us in our creation period. Such as a cranial nerve exam and how doctors practise on each other. From here this helped inspire us to make a movement sequence for the show. We explore the idea of showing both the work and life of doctors and how they intertwine, like for instance in one scene the doctors are at home making dinner and the beeping on the microwave blurs into a scene of a patient having a cardiac arrest and the beeping becomes that of the heart monitor.”

The show focuses on six doctors, with each of them showcasing characteristic that developed from stories they heard. “One of the questions we asked in our survey is, what is the hardest day you have had in career. We heard heart breaking stories about having to handle a patient’s death and telling the victim’s family, and then going to see a patient in the next room and have to be smiley and welcoming.” All based on true events, some of the storylines follow doctors who are top of the class text book perfect, to doctors with substance abuse who take drugs as the only way to help handle the stress and international doctors that not only have to focus on the medical side of the industry, but also mastering a second language.

“We hope to attract a wide audience, and we hope to attract people who are medical professionals. Whether you are wanting to go to medical school, but want to know about it or people who want to know what’s in store for the NHS. “

This show taps into something that the general public take for granted. “Due to the recent strikes, junior doctors have had such negative press around them. We want to be a voice for the people. We have no agenda at all, we just found a passion in this story and we want to continue to bring light to stories like this”

There is also a post-show debate and the panel for the debate will be made up of the Rounds cast, Director, Associate Director and junior doctors.

Rounds is at Southwark Playhouse on 28 Feb.