26 March 2018

New UK and international tour plans for unique show about epilepsy and the brain

Following the success of Beyond My Control 2018 – a full UK and international tour is planned for the unique show fusing performing arts and science to explore epilepsy and the brain

Exeter Northcott Theatre is marking Epilepsy Awareness Day with the announcement that it plans to take its acclaimed stage show Beyond My Control on a bigger tour next year.

These include staging performances in regional theatres, the Edinburgh Festival and even as far away as Australia.

These ambitious plans follow a successful studio tour in February for the show, which uses improvised drama to explore how regions of the brain connect and interact and how these can lead to repeated seizures in people with epilepsy.

The production – part game show, part improvised drama, part maths puzzle – aims to shed fresh light on epilepsy and pioneering mathematical research from the University of Exeter which offers the potential to revolutionise the way the condition is diagnosed.

Plans for the show, which has been praised for shining a light on a condition which affects around 600,000 people in the UK, have been revealed to mark so-called Purple Day, on March 26.

Audience reaction to the studio tour – which played to audiences in Liverpool, Lincoln, London, Exeter, Swindon and Aberystwyth this year – has been overwhelmingly positive with more than 500 people providing detailed feedback of whom 72% rated it 4 or 5*.

Many were people with epilepsy who felt the show had given a voice to a condition that was rarely talked about.

The Northcott’s Artistic and Executive Director Paul Jepson, who devised the show in collaboration with Professor of Biomedical Modelling John Terry, said: “We have now examined and analysed the reaction to this unique piece of theatre and audiences have clearly responded positively.

“We now want as many people as possible to experience what is a funny, engaging and meaningful reflection on lived experience of epilepsy.

“So we are putting together ambitious plans for a bigger tour of city venues and looking into taking the show to the Edinburgh festival and hopefully overseas, including Australia.”

Beyond My Control is the first production created under the IMPACT programme, a partnership between the Northcott theatre and the University of Exeter.

The collaboration, which began in 2016, unites academics and theatrical practitioners to explore an idea or piece of research as a stimulus for creative work.

Professor John Terry, Director of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Centre for Predictive Modelling in Healthcare, said “Seeing our mathematics brought to life on stage and the positive impact it has had on people with epilepsy and the wider public alike has been absolutely fantastic.

“To create a genuinely engaging and entertaining show, that can explore both complex mathematics and a poorly understood neurological condition has been an incredible experience for me and other members of our team.”

 

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

Epilepsy Awareness Day (March 26th), also known as Purple Day, was created in 2008 by Cassidy Megan, a young girl from Canada, who has epilepsy and wanted to get people talking about the condition. Cassidy not only wanted to raise awareness but also assure people with epilepsy that they are not alone. Over the past 8 years Purple Day has grown to be a global event with activities to support epilepsy awareness being undertaken around the world.

 

Examples of audience feedback from London shows:

Vasilya: ‘It was really interesting, informing and engaging, especially the part about the mathematical modelling which was interesting to me – difficult concepts even for people who work with science every day so it was really good to break this down.

 “I think the drama part is really interesting for anyone whether they have epilepsy or not. I did know that epilepsy was caused by increased synchronous activity but it was really interesting to me to see the networks brought into play, how one area of brain can take control and lead to seizure. It’s really nice.’

 Pepi: “It was a very original idea I have never seen a play like that; very catching; its educating but also informative. I enjoyed the play but what was different was the presentation – how they presented such a complex issue was amazing. I would recommend it to friends; it is something unique and personal. It made me think of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time it is about science and maths was included. It’s the only thing I have seen that reminded me of it.”