New musical theatre show to spread message about antimicrobial resistance in schools

A researcher at the University of Edinburgh is to develop a brand new musical for primary schools charting the story of antibiotics and the rise of antimicrobial resistance. 

Meghan Perry, who is an infectious diseases doctor and clinician scientist in Edinburgh University’s Epidemiology Research Group (and a musician herself) has recently obtained funding from the British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy to work on this project.

The musical will be written in collaboration with Robin Hiley, the director of Charades Theatre, an Edinburgh based company with extensive experience of writing and taking musicals into primary schools.  BSAC will fund 2 pilots of the musical in England and Scotland due to be performed in late 2017/ early 2018.

Charades Theatre Company

BSAC have also accepted plans for Charades theatre company to develop a web-based resource that will allow greater than 15,000 primary schools across the UK to develop and host the musical at no additional cost to the individual school.

Power of performance and stories

Antimicrobial resistance is a major global public health threat. The important message of the rise of antibiotic resistance and the fragile future of antibiotics needs to rapidly reach all corners of society.

Performing a musical is a truly interactive experience that will immerse a child in the evocative story of antibiotics and have a profound effect on their knowledge and understanding of the subject. A child’s involvement in a musical impacts the entire school community and three generations; their siblings, parents and grandparents.

Importance of emotional connection

The power of anecdote over statistics is well known. Human brains are designed to digest stories more than any other form of input. The storyteller and the emotion that is attached to a story gives a connection to the listener and can have a significant impact on future decision making when estimating probabilities. A piece of theatre tells a story and a musical has the added emotive influence of music. This makes musical theatre a powerful public engagement tool.

Theatre has previously been used widely as an effective medium to spread the urgent message of HIV and interactive teaching has been established to be an efficient tool in increasing knowledge of infection and hygiene. The impact of this musical educating children (and their families) about bacteria and antibiotic resistance will be fully assessed in collaboration with social sciences.

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