An inspiring play about Parkinson’s and Parkour is coming to a theatre near you
Author: Geoffrey ChangPublished: 8 September 2016
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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.”
Artificial intelligence to monitor Parkinson’s symptoms
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US have developed an artificial intelligence system that can monitor Parkinson’s symptoms from the other side of a solid wall. The x-ray technology – named RF-Pose – will use radio signals to sense individuals’ posture and movement. This will help medical professionals track the development of Parkinson’s and provide more effective care. Dina Katabi, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: “We’ve seen that monitoring patients’ walking speed and ability to do basic activities on their own gives healthcare providers a window into their lives that they didn’t have before. “A key advantage of our approach is that patients do not have to wear sensors or remember to charge their devices.”
The Michael J Fox Foundation awards $107,000 grant to new Parkinson’s study
The Michael J Fox Foundation has awarded a grant of US $107,000 to fund research into a newly discovered gene linked to Parkinson’s. The study – carried out by researchers from the University of Bordeaux, France and Purdue University, US – will investigate whether gene NFE2L1 can reduce nerve cell death in those living with the condition. Jean-Christophe Rochet, professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Purdue University, said: “We recently found that a minor allele [part of a gene] of NFE2L1 can lower Parkinson’s risk. “These observations imply that neuron death in Parkinson’s disease may result in part from a loss of the neuroprotective action of NFE2L1.”
Pesticides could cause Parkinson’s, research finds
Researchers at a Canadian university have conducted a study that suggests pesticides may lead to Parkinson’s disease. As part of the study, the team used stem cells from people living with Parkinson’s to ascertain whether exposure to pesticides can cause mutations. The scientists leading the study found that neurons exposed to certain pesticides were low in energy and moved less freely. Dr Scott Ryan, professor of molecular and cellular biology at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, said: “People exposed to these chemicals are at about a 250 per cent higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than the rest of the population.” Despite the results, the guidelines set for pesticides by many official bodies – including the United States Environmental Protection Agency – do not identify these chemicals as risks. The study concluded that safety guidelines for pesticides may need re-evaluation – and that those living in an agricultural environment…