The B!RTH Project - which is managed by LSTM - was delighted to perform one of its plays at a global youth congress at Hope University, Liverpool to an global audience. The Big Hope 2 aims to bring 1,000 young people together from around the world to hear from a range of speakers and be part of powerful discussions which will inspire them to become leaders in a changing world.
The day began with a keynote lecture from LSTM Director Professor Janet Hemingway entitled 'A career saving millions of children a year', focussed on her work on malaria prevention. Other keynote speakers for the week included Col. John Blashford Snell, Rt, Hon. Sir Vince Cable, and Baroness Ilora Finlay.
B!RTH’s hard-hitting Syria play, ‘Question & Question’, by leading Syrian playwright Liwaa Yazji was performed by a cast of student actors from Hope University and exchange students from the USA who had been working with B!RTH Creative Director, Emma Callander, on the piece. Immediately following the performance, the audience were asked for a one-world response to the play; responses included: ‘angry’. ‘privileged’, and ‘helpless’.
The performance was followed by a panel discussion and interactive debate on the issues raised in the play. The discussion was facilitated by Professor Nynke van den Broek, Head of the Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health at LSTM, and other panellists were:
• Professor Sally Theobald, Chair in Social Science and International Health at LSTM
• Professor Sarah Ssali, Associate Professor and Dean of Gender and women’s studies at Makerere university, Uganda and partner on LSTM consortia REBUILD and RinGs
• Gabrielle Clark, Operations Manager at MRANG (Merseyside Refugee & Asylum Seekers Pre- & Post-Natal Support Group) where she runs the Perinatal Support Group.
The discussion focussed on action and inaction in the context of the play’s subject, something which Professor Ssali’s experiences working with women in post-conflict Uganda and South Sudan were particularly pertinent to. All of the panellists brought a wealth of experience to the discussion, along with students from around the world who shared not only their responses to the piece but their own observations and reflections on maternal health in their home countries.
B!RTH is a unique fusion of science and theatre, using 7 plays written by 7 female playwrights from 7 different countries to raise awareness around global health inequality. The plays premiered at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester in 2016 and have since been performed in Edinburgh, Dublin, Liverpool and at the World Health Organization in Geneva, as well as being used as an educational tool around the world.
‘Question and Question’, along with the six other B!RTH plays, are all free to download and use as tools to educate, raise awareness and encourage debate at www.birthdebate.com.