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Theatre for Children in Hospital
The Gift of Compassion
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Price £40, $57
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ISBN 9781783206452
Paperback 205 pages
Published December 2016
Imprint: Intellect
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Recent decades have seen a new appreciation develop for Applied Theatre and the role of art in arts-based activities in healthcare. This book looks specifically at the place of theatre for children who are hospitalized, showing how powerfully it can enhance their social and mental well-being. Child-led performances, for example, can be used as a technique to distract young patients from hospitalization, prepare them for painful procedures, and teach them calming techniques to control their own pre- or post-operative stress. Persephone Sextou details the key theoretical contexts and practical features of theatre for, children, in the process offering motivation, guidance and inspiration for practitioners who want to incorporate performance into their treatment regimen.

Persephone Sextou is a reader in Applied Theatre and research director of the Community and Applied Drama Laboratory(CADLab) at Newman University, Birmingham, UK. 

Centre for Medical Humanities review by Ligia Batista Silverman.

'Persephone Sextou comprehensively frames Theatre for Children in Hospital (TCH) as a bedside and interactive theatre approach concerned with reframing illness and the identity of children in hospital, and argues that TCH offers children the possibility to have a positive experience in an environment that can otherwise be daunting. The author shares her expertise as a practitioner and a researcher working with TCH in NHS hospitals in the UK, thereby crafting an in-depth analysis both from within the process (as a theatre-maker) and from the margins of the process (as a scholar outside the medical field). The book is written from an artistic and philosophical perspective, placing compassion at the heart of TCH artists’ work with children. This also means that readers in healthcare may find themselves frustrated with the idea of having to negotiate who is more altruistic, the artist or the healthcare professional; and which is more compassionate, the “hard data” or the qualitative research?' – Ligia Batista Silverman, Medical Humanities Journal

'[I]n Theatre for Children in Hospital Sextou describes a range of institutions (medical and educational) and individuals transformed by the use of theatre in healthcare. Her book takes its title from a particular genre, Theatre for Children in Hospital (TCH), and one of its unique forms: a site-specific bedside performance that addresses a pediatric patient’s immediate needs, as improvised by a skilled and empathetic performer based on a rehearsed script that anticipates the interactions and anxieties common to being in the hospital (38–41,11). ' – Jules Odendahl-James, Theatre Journal

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