Healthcare workers are helping to bring a tragic story of loss to the theatre after agreeing to be a sponsor of Welsh writer Philippa Davies’ play about the devastating effects of stillbirth on a family.
Dancing in the Wings will premier at Theatre Clwyd in Mold on 27 February before transferring to The Forum Studio Theatre in Chester in March. It is based upon the writer’s personal experience and aims to show parents facing similar hardship they are not alone.
UNISON Cymru Wales hailed Philippa as an inspirational campaigner and strong female role model. It has offered financial backing to the production because it showed mothers and fathers in similar situations need the best possible mental health support.
The public services union also drew attention to welfare of healthcare workers under great emotional strain themselves as they look after women going through the loss of a child. UNISON said specialist training and support would help them cope and enable them to better care for patients.
Philippa’s daughter Sam was born asleep eight years ago. Philippa and her partner had already lost one baby in early pregnancy and they went on to lose another three of Sam’s siblings at different stages of pregnancy afterwards.
Writer Philippa Davies said,
“I want to raise awareness of baby loss for the thousands of parents having to face this and resulting mental health conditions. Losing my children turned me from an outgoing and happy person into someone who was angry and introverted. I was depressed and had PTSD.
“Every healthcare professional I came into contact with tried to do their best to help me but people struggle with the subject of baby loss and I needed specialist support. In the end, a fantastic nurse from Ysbyty Glan Clwyd told me about a charity they worked with, Ty Gobaith or Hope House. My time with their bereavement counsellor empowered me to write Sam’s story for the stage and my play was created with help from Betsi Cadwaladr health board, Ty Gobaith (Hope House), Sands, Theatr Clwyd and UNISON Cymru Wales.”
Jan Tomlinson, UNISON North Wales health branch secretary said,
“Dancing in the Wings is about an everyday woman experiencing terrible distress. Thousands of women and their partners in a similar position will draw strength and hope knowing Philippa’s story has made the stage. She’s a fantastic campaigner.
“UNISON is predominantly a female union and it is essential we support women in the community. We want that vital mental health assistance to be available to parents in need and for healthcare staff to be properly supported too.”
Children’s rights campaigner Carolyn Harris MP said,
“The loss of a child is a profound pain and the grief swallows the family up. Philippa deserves tremendous credit for bringing her story to wider attention. Talking publicly can help to change the way we think about stillbirth and child loss and better care for families affected.”
Philippa hopes to take her story to more theatres across Wales and the UK.
Notes for editors
- Dancing in the Wings is showing at Theatre Clwyd, Mold 27-29 February.
- Philippa will be talking to the audience on 27 Feb
- The play transfers to The Forum Studio Theatre, Chester 20 -21 March
Alastair Gittins, UNISON press officer on 07816 538397