An inspiring play about Parkinson’s and Parkour is coming to a theatre near you
Author: Geoffrey ChangPublished: 8 September 2016
Prep: Cook: Serves:
A new thought-provoking play that explores the friendship between a free-running teenager and a woman with early-onset Parkinson’s is going on a nationwide tour
After three sell-out shows in cities across the UK and rave reviews, a new Parkinson’s play called Kinetics is taking to the road for a run of 13 performances throughout September and October.
Based on a true story, the inspiring theatre piece explores the unlikely friendship between a teenage boy who is devoted to free running (Parkour) – the extreme sport that involves navigating obstacles without equipment – and a middle-aged woman with early-onset Parkinson’s disease.
But what can they possibly have in common? Despite living completely opposing lives, a chance encounter leads the two protagonists to realise the answer: they share the desire to move.
Featuring projected imagery and electrifying live Parkour, the show raises awareness of Parkinson’s with wit, while challenging perceptions and giving a realistic insight into the daily struggles that come with living with the condition.
Written by actor and drama teacher, Sue Wylie, the play recounts her personal experience of living with Parkinson’s. Sue, who performs the lead role, explains: “Five years ago shortly after my 50th birthday I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. After the initial shock I knew I wanted to write about it. I was teaching drama at the time and discovered that a bright but rebellious 16-year-old student in my tutor group was free running on the school roof.
“I was intrigued by the risks he took in his addiction to this extreme sport. How interesting to contrast that with a middle-aged woman whose world of movement is slowly being eroded. What if their paths should accidentally cross and a friendship form? I knew there was a story in there and so Kinetics was born.”
Sue Wylie (left) playing lead character Rose
Through the juxtaposition of the characters the sharp script, full of emotion and humour, unexpectedly draws parallels between two lives that couldn’t seem more opposite. The two learn more important life lessons from one another than they ever could have imagined.
Following the initial success of sold out shows last year, Kinetics received funding from the Arts Council, allowing them to organise the upcoming Autumn 2016 tour. Parkinson’s UK have officially endorsed the play with CEO Steve Ford saying: “Sue’s play offers an inspiring story to which we can all relate.”
Mouse study suggests neurodegenerative disease begins soon after birth
A study published in the ‘Journal of Clinical Investigation’ has suggested mechanisms that lead to Parkinson’s in adulthood, may begin much earlier than previously thought. The study, carried out by Northwestern University, Illinois, US, researched movement disorder spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 by genetically engineering a mouse to mirror the human disease. Researchers found that altering circuity in the cerebellum – an area of the brain that controls movements – set the stage for later susceptibility to neurological disease. Professor Puneet Opal, who worked on the study, said: “This is the first discovery of alterations in an adult-onset spinocerebellar disorder that stems from such early developmental processes. “This may well be generalisable to a whole host of other diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.”
Australian-based health company Global Kinetics has received a $AUS 7.75 million investment from the Australian Federal Government’s Biomedical Translation Fund. The investment will be used to commercialise its Parkinson’s KinetiGraph – a smartwatch-style device that continually tracks the involuntary movements of those living with the condition. In addition to the sum from the Australian government, Global Kinetics also announced they are to receive a grant from The Michael J Fox Foundation, Shake It Up Australia Foundation and Parkinson’s Victoria. Mark Frasier, senior vice president of research programmes at The Michael J Fox Foundation, said: “The experience of Parkinson’s varies day-to-day, hour-to-hour. An objective tool, such as the wearable PKG technology, that passively collects data on the experience of Parkinson’s disease could give patients and their doctors greater insight to calibrate treatment plans and improve outcomes.”
Smartphone app detects severity of Parkinson’s symptoms
A smartphone app– created by researchers from Johns Hopkins University, the University of Rochester Medical Centre and Aston University – can detect the severity of symptoms in people with Parkinson’s, according to a recent study. The study, which appeared in medical journal ‘JAMA’, found that the HopkinsPD app generated severity score levels which strongly correlated with standard movement tests given by physicians. HopkinsPD is expected to help medical professionals analyse Parkinson’s symptoms. Dr Ray Dorsey, neurologist at the University of Rochester, said: “Until these types of studies, we had very limited data on how people function on Saturdays and Sundays because patients don’t come to the clinic. “We also had very limited data about how people with Parkinson’s do at two o’clock in the morning or 11 o’clock at night because, unless they’re hospitalised, they’re generally not being seen in clinics at those times.”