National Theatre Wales’ production As Long as the Heart Beats evolved from the stories shared with us from across Wales; stories of tragedy and joy, of people renewed and people lost, and overwhelmingly of kindness and compassion. So it seems entirely appropriate that in creating a live production from these stories, the Creative Team of As Long as the Heart Beats have turned again to the people at the heart of the National Health Service.
In the past few days Designer Becky Davies and Composer Tic Ashfield, ably assisted by students from the University of South Wales and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and generously support by Sarah Goodey from Gwent Arts in Health have engaged with the staff and patients in the Main Outpatients Department at Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport.
Becky and her students invited individuals to create their own artwork inspired by Ophthalmology, the care of our eyes and sight. When invited to pick up a pen or pastel, many people required a bit of coaxing, but pen in hand we found that every perspective was entirely unique, and with each drawing came fascinating stories often of lives intertwined with the NHS.
You might think that you know the sound of your own heartbeat, but watching the rhythmic pattern trace across a laptop screen is a strange sensation, and one with captured the imagination of many in the Outpatient Department. Nurses, Consultants, F2s, Co-ordinators, Patients and League of Friends volunteers queued up to have their heartbeats recorded, gifting Composer Tic with extraordinary instrumentation to weave into the music and soundscape she is composing for As Long as the Heartbeats. Again we were struck by how distinctive each heartbeat was, until we met a mother and daughter with almost identical rhythms, beating in synchronicity.
Cynhyrchydd Cynorthwyol / Assistant Producer NTW