Operating Theatre


Thought-provoking, poignant and unavoidable theatre

Audience member For the Best

Welcome to Operating Theatre. We provide bespoke theatrical experiences that can transform the way people think about health and well being. We have over fifteen years of experience of responding to commissions and creating original and authentic drama for live performance as well as on film.

We deliver plays, monologues, theatre based workshops, training films and educational events. We have worked with all sorts of organisations and healthcare professionals and know that what we do helps to make a difference. Our clients tell us this on a regular basis.

You can contact us to discuss your project, in confidence, and we will be happy to use our experience to craft a proposal that best suits your needs. We believe health and well being concerns us all and better health comes through collaboration. We would love to hear from you.


We had a wonderful afternoon at the ASME conference at the Sage, Gateshead. ASME brings together all manner of medical educators and the workshop was attended by both health care professionals and academics.  We were invited to talk about the use of Drama in Medical Education and we had a very lively and stimulating session exploring how we might approach dramatising the suggestions from the participants. Here are some of the comments from those who came along.

  • I would really like to use this type of approach with my patients at times – a bit like psychodrama in many ways and would really allow for honest conversation (community healthcare practitioner)
  • Really good workshop, can see the importance of using drama. Really like it. 
  • Developed an appreciation of alternative perspectives to story writing/narrative for scripting.  (hospital healthcare professional)
  • Reminder of the power of drama, enabling us to delve deeper into understanding what people mean/are experiencing (educator)
  • Really interesting and thought-provoking. I think this is something that should feature more in the medical curriculum. I was also a medical student at Newcastle and experienced your work first-hand – I loved it (hospital HCP)
  • Really interesting and thought provoking definitely something to think about with medical students (nurse)

Using Drama in Medical Education is available as a workshop. Do contact us if you are interested.

In other news…

CANDO LAUNCH–  We are very excited to be involved in highlighting to the public this ground breaking research that aims to help patients with untreatable focal epilepsy. We presented a short form version of a full length piece which will premier in the Autumn.

Screenshot-2018-5-30 CANDO NCL on Twitter Powerful words from OperatingThtr for today's launch of our public engagement Big[...]

We were delighted to be part of the official launch of the CANDO project.  Our piece is based on the interviews we have conducted with patients, researchers and advocates, as well as the reflections of poets, painters and novelists who have lived with epilepsy. Van Gogh, Dostoyevsky, Lewis Carrol, Emily Dickinson and Edward Lear are just a few of the many artists whose lives have been affected by the condition.

Our ongoing collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh means we presented a series of scenarios to surgeons and patients in Newcastle Upon Tyne. The sketches were produced in response to a brilliantly productive day long workshop in Edinburgh. The feedback was incredibly useful and what is clear is that policies around Shared Decision Making need to be developed through a collaborative process that involves patients as well as surgeons. We will be producing a number of filmed sketches which will form part of a programme on Shared Decision Making. This vital aspect of the care process is being promoted by the College as it is an invaluable element of the relationship between surgical teams and the patients they treat.

We were back at the Med School in Newcastle  recently with White Lies and we would like to thank all of the staff at the Neo Natal Unit at the the RVI for their continued support. They are enormously skilled and experienced, and it was very moving to see the array of photographs on display of young people who were nurtured from a seemingly impossible birth weight to robust adulthood.

Back soon with more news. In the meantime have a look around the website or get in touch and let us know what you are involved in and how we can help.

Alex Elliott,

Artistic Director

Operating Theatre

CANDO launch leaflet


We would like to thank the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh for hosting ICONS, a day long event dedicated to improved Shared Decision Making and Informed Consent. The room was full of highly experienced and committed surgeons who shared their views and literally rolled their sleeves up to address the challenges true SDM poses. We will be producing some short films this year with RCSEdinburgh and have lots of material to work with.

We are also delighted to be working with some outstanding researchers who are engaged in a pioneering treatment for epilepsy. CANDO have been awarded funding by Wellcome to expand their public engagement.  They will be working with internationally renowned artists Susan Aldworth and Andrew Carnie to develop workshops, virtual reality technology and mobile pop up events to showcase the science behind CANDO. The human impact of epilepsy will be at the heart of Operating Theatre’s collaboration and we look forward to working hand in hand with the CANDO team. Taking place over the next three years, it will culminate in art exhibitions at Hatton Gallery and Vane Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne in 2020. Find out more here

We are also engaged in the process of putting all of our films online. You can view Going Under a touching portrait of the consequences of clinical error by going to the FILM page.

NUTH Nursing Conference

We recently celebrated the incredible work nurses and midwives do by presenting a new commission ‘A Serious Incident’ at the Newcastle Hospitals 19th Annual Nursing and Midwifery Conference. It was a fantastic experience for us. Stimulating, challenging and humbling too. The commissioners wrote to us after the event to say:

‘We are all still on a high… it has been a real pleasure to work with you… you helped us hold our nerve when we were a bit scared and took fledgling ideas and created something that resonated so well with the audience. It was amazing to see..’

Frances Blackburn, Deputy Director of Nursing and Patient Services Freeman The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Watch what we do

We have been busy on several projects this year and are delighted to announce that, as part of the THINK SAFE programme, our series of comedy sketches on Patient Safety,    ‘Whose Leg is it Anyway?‘, is now available to everyone. It’s a great way to get the conversation started about patients’ involvement in their own safety.

‘highly engaging, interactive and most importantly thought provoking…’  Dr Richard Cooper,  Head of Northern School of Radiology

The website has a free resource pack for you to download.

You can watch the full length film (24 mins) here.  Enjoy



Recent Posts

What’s happening?

It has been a busy time for Operating Theatre.

1st of March – In collaboration with Skimstone Arts we are proud to be part of the creation of a new piece called The Ties That Bind. Thanks to some development funding from Edinburgh University we are going to be exploring metaphor in dementia. How both those who are suffering from dementia and those who care for and support those people choose to express the shifting landscape that the condition creates. It’s very early days but it promises to be a really exciting project with live music, movement and a lot of surprises. The Ties That Bind will debut at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick.
Future performance dates to follow.

26th and 27th of  February- As part of our ongoing programme of short dramas delivered to medical students Year 2 students watched White Lies a piece by Steve Chambers  It is a very moving piece about clinical error that really gets the students thinking about duty of candour and the fact that clinical error often comes about as a result of a whole chain of events. At the Stockton site the students craft an apology to the parent of a 30 week baby who may have been affected. This exercise is always challenging and stimulating for all involved.

16th of January – Letters Home originally created for Operating Theatre by Julia Darling was performed at the Medical School in Newcastle. It is a moving piece about anorexia and the impact of the condition on a family. Joy Sanders, who has played Grace, the mum in the piece, on several occasions, directed a very talented cast. This is part of our ongoing policy to draw on the strengths of those who have worked with us as performers and support them in developing other roles.

  1. New website, new ideas 2 Replies