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Pinchbeck, M., Baynton, R., 2018.

A Fortunate Man: work-in-progress

Output Type:Conference paper
Publication:Hold Everything Dear: Performance, Politics and John Berger

To mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS, New Perspectives presents a devised show by Michael Pinchbeck inspired by A Fortunate Man; the 1967 masterpiece by writer John Berger and photographer Jean Mohr. Offering an in-depth study of a country doctor who after years of caring for people took his own life, the book has been widely hailed as one of the most influential texts ever written on the subject of medicine, treatment and care. This production marks the first ever UK adaptation of the book and comes with the blessing from John Berger?s family. Using archive film footage and contemporary reportage, the production will be part slide show, part documentary, part adaptation, and will explore and explode the themes of the ground-breaking book. The book?s text and images merge with verbatim text from doctors today creating a powerful and poignant portrait of the NHS past and present. Two people take to the stage. They deliver a lecture. One reads an academic paper. The other reads the footnotes. Slowly the talk shifts mode into a performance. They play a writer. A photographer. A doctor. They tell the story of how the book came to be using words and images. They tell us what happened to the doctor after it was published, they ask what has changed in the 50 years since the book and they take the pulse of the NHS today. A cast of two actors will perform an exclusive extract from the play ahead of its opening in London this June followed by a tour of venues and medical centres and eventually a run at the Edinburgh Festival 2018. John Berger (11/11/1926?02/01/2017) wrote widely about art and politics but only rarely about theatre and performance. His few plays are not widely performed, and his collaborations within theatre were relatively infrequent. Yet his insights have arguably informed the artistic practice-and political conscience-of generations of performance-makers. The Hold Everything Dear symposium at the University of Greenwich explored the implications of Berger's thought for performance.