Triage! A Nursing Cabaret // Zuleika Khan

Love your nurse. 

Fight for your nurse. 

Support your nurse’s selfcare.

Respect your nurse’s training and intelligence.

Recognise your nurse’s incredible emotional labour.

Make sure your nurse gets a raise. 

Stop buying ‘Sexy Nurse’ outfits (Zuli can, and does look awesome, but most y’all should not until stereotypes of nurses are destroyed)

Prioritise your nurse every once in a while so you say ‘Nurses and Doctors’, because it’s fucked up that it’s ALWAYS ‘Doctors and Nurses’.

Talk honestly with your nurse – they can see right through you.

Help nurses resist burnout – physically and emotionally.

Strike in solidarity with your nurse.

Learn from your nurse.

Laugh with your nurse.

Obey your nurse.

Zuleika Khan has much to teach the world about nursing and the attitudes, stereotypes, conscious and unconscious biases and politics which affect how the profession of nursing is discussed, funded, berated, demeaned and looked over inside the medicine/health care hierarchy. But despite the mistreatment, the lack of time for selfcare, and the emotional labor which comes from such intensive patient experience, Khan’s world is one which seems motivated and inspired by her profession. Underneath each comedic portrayal of a patient or jibe about a doctor’s patronizing glances, is a dedication to a cause, a commitment to her family’s healthcare lineage (Khan grew up in her family’s medical surgery) and a love for patients. 

The UK (alongisde much of the world) has a crisis in nursing, as caused by NHS cuts, public sector pay freezes, Brexit on the horizon, and a general lack of care for some of our society’s most essential first responders. When Khan first appears in a ‘sexy nurse’ costume – and reveals the very-believable fact that ‘nurse’ is the number one sexual fantasy/fetish – there is a stark reminder of how casual sexism and deeply embedded misogyny prevent the development of a truly non-hierarchical or holistic healthcare system. If nursing is gendered as female, and we still underpay, under-respect and under-acknowledge so many professions gendered as female… well, how can we expect our nurses to have time for the critical work of selfcare, to feel pride in their work, to feel as part of a team helping the whole community. 

Khan uses her Triage! cabaret as medicine: sometimes it burns going down, sometimes it makes you woozy, sometimes it makes you laugh, sometimes it makes you emotional.  Khan uses Triage! to collect her allies (the nurses in the audience nodded with vigor throughout), humorously shame those who don’t know what a speculum does (or looks like), and inspire new, more radical perspectives on nursing, a profession which – whether we engage with it everyday or only in a crisis – remains critically important and critically under-supported.  

- Brian Lobel


Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Triage! A Nursing Cabaret - Zuleika Khan

Brexit and Nursing - Guardian

No Show - Gender Stereotypes in Circus

Nursing and Striking - Independent

Selina Thompson on Self-Care at the Fringe - Exeunt

On Nursing and Burnout - National Nurses United

Desperation Bingo // Creative Electric

It is brave to incorporate a game of chance like bingo within a show that has a serious message, but Creative Electric manage it well with a pair of camp, confident hosts. Eyes down, dabbers ready... The audience is playing, but there are also three 'contestants' who respond to each called number with a fact about themselves based on that number. It might be something that happened when they were that age, or something they bought for that amount of money, or the number of years they've been taking medication to treat their anxiety.

The audience can win prizes in the first two rounds, even as the information we learn about the contestants' characters gets more personal and more desperate. By the third round, it is clear that the point is to rage at the deadly impacts of the current government's austerity policies in the UK. A case here in Leith is mentioned, in which a local man died by suicide and the coroner said the trigger had been the decision of the Department of Work and Pensions to rule him fit for work, in spite of contrary assessments by his GP and psychologists.

Unlike Kaleider's Money, seen in Edinburgh in 2015, which asked the audience to agree on how to spend a pot of money, Desperation Bingo culminates in the opportunity for one audience member to win £82. The prize is the weekly benefits of the final contestant's mother, which she is at risk of losing now that her Disability Living Allowance has been replaced by an opportunity to apply for Personal Independence Payments. Last night the audience member declined, and it would be interesting to know whether anyone has ever, with an actor shouting 'You are Iain Duncan Smith; you are the Tory government', dared take the money.

- Michael Regnier


Links relevant to this diagnosis: 

Desperation Bingo - Creative Electric

The Money | Kaleider - British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2015

What Is Austerity? - The Economist 

GP's Report Was Ignored During Assessment - Pulse

Life and Death Under Austerity - Mosaic

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

The Samaritans - How to Get Help

BUBBLE SCHMEISIS / Nick Cassenbaum

BUBBLE SCHMEISIS / Nick Cassenbaum

Cultural identity is made out of little, everyday things, just as the character of a neighbourhood is made up of the everyday rather than the exceptional. The best sign of gentrification in London’s East End isn’t the Cereal Killer Café, but the slow closure of its greasy spoons and corner shops and their replacement with more Pret A Mangers. Nick Cassenbaum’s performance is about Jewish identity, and the self-care ritual of the Schvitz, an intergenerational steam bath that unfolds as a psychogeographic narrative of the Jewish East End. It has orbiting interests of personal, urban and cultural history, and through them questions the identities of individuals, groups and cities.



Altered Minds, Altered Realities is a one-act, one-man play in which the playwright and actor, Augustus Stephens, depicts six characters in turn in a series of monologues, poems and songs. Each named character is living with a different serious mental illness.

DANCER / Gary Gardiner, Ian Johnston, Adrian Howells

DANCER / Gary Gardiner, Ian Johnston, Adrian Howells

Two dapper gentlemen dance on a stage, tuxedoed and practised and feeling their songs. To pop hits and mirrorball classics, they induct the audience into their friendship and collaboration, with jokes and stories and practised moments of quiet. One has a disability, the other does not, but neither are trained and their movement is open to anyone.



Stress-related mental health problems affect one in five primary care workers. Four in five have trouble sleeping. These are the realities of working in today’s NHS, according to mental health research by Mind, and they form the backdrop to Monologues of a Tired Nurse.



While Bron Batten’s performance of Sweet Child of Mine (seemingly) did not seek to directly explore ideas of ageing and care; making the piece with her father led to an additional layer of performance gently weaving itself in. In this piece, the lines between Bron’s relationship to her parents on and off stage begin to blur.

THIS IS YOUR FUTURE / Lynn Ruth Miller

THIS IS YOUR FUTURE / Lynn Ruth Miller

Lynn Ruth Miller is 82, and she's been doing stand-up for 12 years. The focus of This is Your Future is ageing, and it features faulty hearing aids, fractured limbs, replacement hips, mammograms and colonoscopies. It also discusses the joys and perils of geriatric dating – google it and you'll find a range of websites aimed at 'senior singles', although Miller suggests the obituaries are a good place to find out who's newly available.

ZERO DOWN / Angel On The Corner TC

ZERO DOWN / Angel On The Corner TC

Zero Down is set in a small-town care home in which abuse of the elderly patients is carried out on a daily basis: not by staff but by management, who allow the store cupboard to run out of wet wipes and humans to sit in their own faeces for hours before bothering to send a nurse to them.

TRACING GRACE / OffTheWallTheatreCo

TRACING GRACE / OffTheWallTheatreCo

Sixteen people are diagnosed with encephalitis – severe brain inflammation – every day in the UK, yet most of the public have never heard of it. Based on the real life experiences of writer and director Annie Eves, whose sister Grace was diagnosed with the condition at just three weeks old, Tracing Grace aims to open our eyes to the existence of encephalitis and the challenges of living with its long-term impact.



The title of Eat. Sleep. Bathe. Repeat refers directly to the routines that are as vital to the residents in a home for men with “low-functioning” autism as they are to the staff. The drama begins when these routines are interrupted by the arrival of James, a young man who needs holiday work but has no experience of caring for people with disabilities.