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Photo by Paul Blakemore

Ministry of Meh

Written and Directed by Tracey Street and Leon Phillips.

As part of its Creative Gymnasium project, the Community & Education Company created the funny and moving new play Ministry of Meh, which premiered in the B2 auditorium from 29 February to 3 March 2012.

Developed with the Senior Youth Theatre, the play was a timely exploration of the issues surrounding obesity, personal responsibility for keeping fit and and the role the NHS plays in healthcare today. Directors Leon Phillips and Tracey Street explained:

“In the Olympic year, the Belgrade stimulated engagement with the arts as a way to promote health and well-being. The Senior Youth Theatre was asked to develop a new piece of work around the broad theme of physical health, an issue very pertinent to the Midlands, which has been described as the ‘obesity capital of Europe’.

“In exploring this with the group, we found a resistance to physical warm-up and a general apathy about keeping fit – some people didn’t care about their general fitness levels; some did care but ‘just didn’t have the time’; a small few exercised regularly. In general, it was only when something went wrong that there was a realisation that something had to be done. Apathy therefore became our main starting point for the play.

“As we were devising around this theme, the following question arose: ‘What would happen if the NHS was abolished’? With the current Government’s plans to drastically reform the health system in the UK, this question took on a particular resonance. We began to ask what impact having to pay for our own health care would have on our sense of responsibility for keeping fit, and what were the motivations for both personal and political change. The result was The Ministry of Meh. If you don’t take responsibility for your own health when you have the chance, you will pay for it one way or the other . . .”

Click through the Images & Videos gallery to the left to see more images and to watch a video of audience members reviewing the show. Leon also talks more about the play in this podcast.