We all love the NHS, but the last few months have crystalised just how invaluable the institution is. To show its appreciation for everything those in the service have done at this time of national crisis, the Old Vic is broadcasting a series of specially commissioned monologues celebrating the NHS, plus a new play written by Booker Prize-winning author Bernadine Evaristo.
Originally staged in 2018 to mark the seventieth anniversary of the NHS, ‘The Greatest Wealth’ is a set of eight monologues each responding to a decade in the life of the service, exploring how Aneurin Bevan’s project evolved from a post-war dream to the present day’s imperilled but much-loved institution. The plays, which are being broadcast online as part of the theatre’s digital offering, Your Old Vic, have been curated by Lolita Chakrabarti, directed by Adrian Lester and written by big-name playwrights: Moira Buffini, Seiriol Davies, Matilda Ibini, Courttia Newland, Meera Syal, Jack Thorne, Paul Unwin and Chakrabarti.
‘First, Do No Harm’ is the latest addition to series and was written this year by Evaristo, who has won multiple awards recently for her novel ‘Girl, Woman, Other’. It explores the future of the NHS in the 2020s and will be performed by Olivier Award-winner Sharon D Clarke.
Evaristo said: ‘I welcomed the challenge of writing about the NHS, hugely enjoyed working with the team behind it, and love the casting of Sharon D Clarke, whose amazing career I have followed for decades. Writing about the NHS made me reflect very deeply on what an incredible asset it is for us in Britain. Long may it look after our healthcare!’
This series also serves as a precursor to a major Old Vic artistic celebration of the NHS, from inception to present day, which is currently in development for the theatre’s 2021 season – something hopeful to look forward to in these uncertain times for London’s cultural industries.
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