Medicine’s Monstrous Daughters
Touring nationally Autumn 2019
How much of our humanity do we lose in search of the elusive cure?
Do we hold the hearse in search of the lovely bones and sell our souls for science?
Photograph: Julie McNamara / Watts Gallery
Photo description: Four plaster casts of female hands rest in an eerily lit museum display cabinet
Two powerful stories woven together across time to expose unpalatable truths on the treatment of people we still deem ‘unworthy of life’.
Two women trapped inside the mental health system, two centuries apart, give us two vivid and vital takes on how we have cast away our disabled daughters for medicine’s magical gains.
Julie McNamara’s Monstrous Daughters is based on a 30-minutes play, Hold the Hearse!, originally commissioned by the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries’ Exceptional and Extraordinary Project (University of Leicester), which toured to packed houses in museum spaces, receiving outstanding responses and engaging wide richly diverse audiences.
Now developed as part of a double bill, Monstrous Daughters is an eerie and humorous journey following the plight of Mad Mary and the young sluice boy, Walter Riddle – a haunting story from two characters who evade ‘the specimen collectors’, bringing the grisly reality of body snatching to light and inviting audiences to question our ethics in collecting and attitudes towards difference.
The extraordinary debut play by Omikemi, Medicine, investigates contemporary experiences of the mental health system by women of African heritage – unravelling a hidden story of unethical medical experimentation and exploitation.
The play draws upon the story of Elsie Lacks, the second daughter of the eternal Henrietta Lacks, whose cells are the source of the HeLa cell line used in medical research. Henrietta’s cells were removed from her body without consent in the 1950s and continue to be one of the most important cell lines used in medical research today.
Written by Julie McNamara and Omikemi
Directed by Vici Wreford-Sinnott
Supported by ARC, Stockton Arts Centre