At the age of 26, in the space of three weeks, Adam Pownall went from being a fit and healthy dancer and performer to a paralysed man unable to blink unaided. Getting Better Slowly is the story of his two and half year battle back to health, from learning to walk and talk again to the movement classes that kept him going to the first time he managed to play football again. The show toured extensively through Autumn 2016, asking audiences how they might deal with an unexpected illness of accident, and will be livestreamed from Lincoln Drill Hall on 26th February. The show, which has already reached many recovered GBS suffers, will for the first time be able to reach those currently undergoing treatment for the illness. The show is planning tour again in Autumn 2017.
Through speech, movement, sound and verbatim text taken from interviews with Adam and his family, the show follows him from diagnosis to rehabilitation, capturing his highs and lows to create an inspirational piece about illness and recovery.
The condition, named after Doctors Georges Guillain and Jean Alexandre Barré in which the immune system damages the nerve cells causing muscle weakness and paralysis, has no known cause, though it is thought to be triggered by an infection or virus. It affects one in 100,000 people, and there has recently been an increase in cases in countries that have experienced Zika virus outbreaks.
Following his rehabilitation, Adam returned to work in the arts. In 2014 he won the Olwen Wymark Award for supporting New Writing within Theatre for the Writer’s Guild for his work in opening and running Create Theatre in Mansfield, and he recently become Artistic Director of Lincoln Drill Hall after being Programme Co-ordinator at Derby Theatre. Getting Better Slowly is his first performance role since his illness was diagnosed in 2009. He said, “I regularly support GAIN Charity, I go and visit any current sufferers to offer them my story as a way of hope and positivity to help them in their ordeal, and Getting Better Slowly is part of this venture to create awareness and inspire hope.”
GAIN (Guillain-Barré & Associated Inflammatory Neuropathies) Charity is the official charity for GBS. Director Caroline Morrice said, “The live stream is very important to GAIN as it will allow more people to see this powerful depiction of such a rare illness from wherever they are in the world and to know that GAIN is there to help them.” For more information please visit www.gaincharity.org.uk
Movement director Marc Brew has been working as a dancer, choreographer and director for more than 20 years in the UK and abroad. In 2014 Marc was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Performance (Individual) at the prestigious Isadora Duncan Awards for his solo piece Remember When. In 2015, his autobiographical piece For Now, I am… explored what it is to be broken and reborn, the first work he has made that engages directly with his body since a head-on car crash in 1997 left him with a spinal cord injury. He is currently Guest Artistic Director at AXIS Dance Company and Associate Artistic Director at Ballet Cymru.
Associate Choreographer Kimberley Harvey has her own dance company Subtle Kraft Co, and is a Candoco Artist, including performing in the 2012 Paralympic Closing Ceremony.
Director Tilly Branson’s past work includes Acting Alone (International tour 2015-16), Man to Man (Mercury Theatre Colchester 2013 and Park Theatre London 2014) and Entertaining Angels (New Perspectives, rural tour 2013). For the past four years she has been working on an AHRC funded practice-based PhD about rural touring.
Writer Nick Wood’s commissions include Radio 4, Derby Theatre, Thalia Theatre Hamburg, Action Transport, Theatr Iolo, Hans Otto Potsdam, RSC, and Eastern Angles. He recently returned to acting touring his own play A Girl With A Book. His adaptation of The Underground Man opens at Nottingham Playhouse on the same night as Getting Better Slowly.
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