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New show tells true story of one man’s two and a half year journey to recovery after Guillain Barré Syndrome paralysed him
Getting Better Slowly
Thursday 3rd November 2016
At the age of 26, in the space of three weeks, Adam Pownall went from being a fit and healthy dancer and performer to a paralysed man unable to blink unaided. Getting Better Slowly is the story of his two and half year battle back to health, from learning to walk and talk again to the movement classes that kept him going to the first time he managed to play football again. Through speech, movement, sound and verbatim text taken from interviews with Adam and his family, the show follows him from diagnosis to rehabilitation, capturing his highs and lows to create an inspirational piece that asks the audience how they might deal with an unexpected illness or accident.
Following his rehabilitation, Adam returned to work in the arts. In 2014 he won the Olwen Wymark Award for supporting New Writing within Theatre for the Writer’s Guild for his work in opening and running Create Theatre in Mansfield, and he recently become Artistic Director of Lincoln Drill Hall after being Programme Co-ordinator at Derby Theatre. Getting Better Slowly is his first performance role since his illness was diagnosed in 2009. He said, “Prior to March 2009 I was always the type to describe myself as a positive person. However, it isn’t until you are dealt a life-changing situation you are truly tested and you have to summon the strength to find real positivity.
“I woke up one morning with what felt like a hangover, and my feet were cold… but they never warmed up. I was in hospital for a total of six months, three in a rehabilitation ward going through countless physiotherapy sessions, all of which causing excruciating pain due to my nervous system being messed up. With support of the hospital physio team I used dance to aid my recovery, leaving the hospital every Tuesday to attend a dance class with friends, at first in a wheelchair then using walking aides when my movement got better. There were obviously days where I wanted to give in, I struggled with bouts of depression due to being lonely, feeling like a failure when I couldn’t take more than five steps unaided. I was tired, chronically tired.” But with positivity and determination Adam has made a show which tells his story to raise awareness.
“I regularly support GAIN Charity, I go and visit any current sufferers to offer them my story as a way of hope and positivity to help them in their ordeal, and Getting Better Slowly is part of this venture to create awareness and inspire hope.”
GAIN (Guillain-Barré & Associated Inflammatory Neuropathies) Charity is the official charity for GBS. For more information please visit www.gaincharity.org.uk