Butcher was an examination of the highly profitable cancer industry. We explored the entrenched acceptance in society that we have a fatalistic ‘killer-gene’ on the rampage.
We questioned the surgical removal of healthy breasts and the implications and consequences of radical treatments when positive family history and or the predisposing BRCA genes are present.
Asking4It Productions challenged the status quo within the fields of biomedical science (genetics, the pharamceutical industry, surgery, chemo and radiotherapy). We explored the impact of fear, stress and a negative belief system on the health of individuals. Somehow, we managed to produce Butcher as funny and surreal theatre.
Butcher was written by Jane Fox and Sue Jickells in 2010 and the original score was composed by James Flight (RWCMD). Butcher was produced as immersive theatre-in-the round at Chapter, Cardiff, UK in 2011. It was entertaining, provocative attempt to redefine cancer, the fund-raising charities and the many actors (research departments, the NHS and pharmaceutical industry etc) whose existence depends on the maintenance of such a position. It was a challenging experience as writer, director and theatre-maker as many people still believe that ‘cancer’ is fatally encoded in the genes and thus unavoidable.
Three women dressed in pinks are running-in-circles for cancer as they question the possibility of a cure. Fragmented elements referencing sheep are employed as body-part extensions (a blackened snout worn over the eyes and shaggy hair). Intended as a mirror devise for the removal of healthy organs, surgical invasions and the questioning of the impact of fear on the general public. Pinned on their backs are not photographs of the lost beloved but black squares. The black squares symbolise the black hole that is the cure-for-cancer myth-making-machine, the ambiguity of the difficult decision and the loss of life through extreme treatment. Prevention within medicine and the cancer-industry is rarely heard.
Health Promotion remains unfashionable and disenfranchised even though counter-research demonstrates that many cancers are avoidable. Pioneering scientists within the field of Epi-genetics are exploring fluidity within the human genome and are examining the impact of fear, negative cognitions, personal, domestic and environmental pollutants on the health of the cell. Additionally, they are researching the potential for the reversal of damage within the cell. This is different to the pessimism of genetic determinism and is a view that more fully embraces the symbiosis of nature and nurture. We live in an increasingly polluted climate where the conditions effecting air, water and soil are changing dramatically. Is this preventable?
Here a woman drenched in red light and stalked by butchers laments her loss of healthy breasts. On her head is a mutated horn as she awaits her silicon replacements.
The brilliant musicians as surgical implements. Jimmy Ottley-speculum on cello, Ashley-John Long- syringe on double-bass and Hannah Stone-forceps on harp.
The sculptural heads were exploring organ accumulations; internal matter becomes external and explicit and the tools of the trade such as examination probes and flashing lights are embedded in the tissues. Multiples of spectacles are used to question sight and myopia and mirrors to reflect. The reversed white cross on the red apron references doctors-as-gods.
Strait-Jackets lending the hands into stumps and military references were used to juxtapose wars with bodily invasion and occupation. Design ideas for military uniform were global but non-specific with the intention of exploring universal themes of brutalism within Butcher.
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