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.”
Debate: are people with Parkinson’s “sick”? (Part One)
The first in a two-part series
18 hours ago
New evidence fruit compound could support Parkinson’s disease treatment
A new study from researchers in the US and South Korea suggests farnesol, a natural compound found in fruit, may be beneficial in treating Parkinson’s disease. The team used mice models to test the compound’s role in deactivating PARIS – a protein which can contribute to Parkinson’s onset by reducing the shields around dopamine-producing neurons. For one week, they fed mice a diet containing farnesol and compared them with mice who were fed a normal diet. They then administered the mice with alpha-synuclein protein linked to Parkinson’s effects in the brain. The findings revealed that the mice that had consumed farnesol had twice the number of healthy dopamine neurons as the control group, and performed better in tests designed to assess Parkinson’s symptoms. The researchers concluded that, while safe doses for humans have not yet been determined, “farnesol may be beneficial in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease”.
Turmeric oil may offer new ways of treating Parkinson’s disease
Turmeric oil may be beneficial in treating Parkinson’s disease, according to researchers from Kumamoto University in Japan. Their findings support the known properties of aromatic turmerone (ar-turmerone), a compound found in turmeric essential oil, which reduces inflammatory responses caused by cells associated with Parkinson’s-related neurodegeneration. Using midbrain slice cultures – laboratory cellular models that mimic brain activity – the team analysed the effects of a natural form of aromatic turmerone and eight structurally similar derivatives. They tested the derivatives’ anti-inflammatory effects, as well as their ability to protect dopamine-producing neurons. Those with the strongest anti-inflammatory effects were found to prevent the loss of dopamine-producing neurons. Among these were aromatic turmerone and its derivatives, suggesting their role as a “potential candidate for treating Parkinson’s disease”. In a press release, lead author Takahiro Seki said: “Our study elucidated a new mechanism by which ar-turmerone and its derivatives directly protect … [dopamine-producing] neurons.”
Research offers new insights on a cause of Parkinson’s disease
Researchers in Denmark have shared insights on a cause of up to 95% of Parkinson’s disease cases. Using data on gene patterns and three mouse models, scientists at the University of Copenhagen found that a blockage to a pathway regulating mitochondria (‘powerhouses’ that generate energy for reactions in cells) causes a form of the condition known as ‘sporadic Parkinson’s disease’. When the pathway becomes blocked by a protein, damaged mitochondria accumulate, unable to produce enough energy – which in turn causes nerve cells to die. “Just like when people eat, cells take what they need and get rid of … waste products,” explained corresponding study author Professor Shohreh Issazadeh-Navikas. “But if our brain cells have this specific kind of signalling blockage, it means that the powerhouse of the cell – mitochondria – cannot get cleaned up after being damaged.” The team now plan to investigate the pathway’s role in neuronal…