PreScribed (A Life Written For Me): a theatrical qualitative research-based performance script informed by general practitioners’ experiences of emotional distress

Ruth Riley, Johanna Spiers, Viv Gordon

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This paper includes the script from a research-informed, theater-based production titled PreScribed (A Life Written for Me), which depicts the life of a distressed General Practitioner (GP) who is on the verge of breaking down and burning out. The authors provide context for the collaboration between artist and researchers and report on the creative methodological process involved in the co-production of the script, where research findings were imaginatively transformed into live theater. The researchers provide their reflections on the process and value of artistic collaboration and use of theater to disseminate research findings about emotions to wider audiences. It is concluded that qualitative researchers and artists can collaborate to co-create resonant and powerful pieces of work which communicate the emotions and experiences of research participants in ways that traditional academic dissemination methods cannot. The authors hope that sharing their experiences and this script as well as their reflections on the benefits of this approach may encourage researchers and artists to engage in this type of methodological collaboration in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
Issue numberJanuary-December 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Chief Investigator (Ruth Riley) of the GP study responded to a call—for researchers to work with artists—from the Centre for Public Engagement at the University of Bristol’s Elizabeth Blackwell Institute (EBI). The proposal was accepted by the EBI, who subsequently put out a national call for artists, who were asked to submit their ideas for collaboration based on a summary of the research. A two-stage application process took place, comprising shortlisting followed by a live pitch before a panel. The interview panel included artists, creative directors, an EBI representative and the investigator, who selected experienced theater maker Viv Gordon for the collaboration. The EBI financed the collaboration and production with funding from Wellcome.

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The study was funded by NIHR School for Primary Care Research. Viv Gordon and PreScribed were funded by the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute, University of Bristol, UK from Wellcome and The British Arts Council

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • arts based methods
  • description
  • interpretive
  • methods in qualitative inquiry
  • performance based methods
  • secondary data analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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