I’m Sue Wylie, an actor and writer. Seven years ago, shortly after my 50th birthday, I was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s. It came as a complete shock. However, as an actor I knew from early on that I wanted to write about it, not least to help process what was happening but also to give people living with Parkinson’s a voice and raise awareness about this often misunderstood condition.
Around the same time, I was teaching part-time when Laszlo came to my attention. He was getting into trouble for free running on the school roof. It became clear on talking to him that he was in danger of getting of getting kicked out of school before he completed his GCSEs. I suggested we write a short monologue in which he could express the frustrations that made him want to go running.
I was fascinated by what it was that drove him to take part in such an extreme sport. His movement was so out there, whilst mine was being slowly eroded. I realised that here was my story: the unlikely friendship between a 16-year-old lad who uses Parkour as a way of release, and a 50-something woman with early onset Parkinson’s. Two people seemingly at polar opposites, but with much more in common than they think.
I originally wrote Kinetics as a stage play and took it to Dorchester Arts with a view to staging a one-off performance. They felt that the script had great potential and decided to support its development. The resulting production was directed by Kate McGregor (National Theatre Studio, Henry V at Shakespeare’s Globe) and Laszlo – the inspiration for Lukas – joined us for the first six performances. Roly, who plays Lukas in the film, continued for the remaining shows.
With the help of Dorchester Arts, Arts Council England and a fast-growing group of supporters, we toured the South West of England and London in autumn 2016 to great critical acclaim. 1500 tickets were sold, which is a great achievement for a new piece of writing. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive:
“My wife has Parkinson’s. The performance was absolutely authentic and brilliantly performed.”
“Seeing the play has greatly increased my knowledge of Parkinson’s. Many thanks for a very informative, imaginative and entertaining production.”
“I’m a junior doctor and I really enjoyed the performance. It helped me to appreciate what it must be like for patients to deal with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. I think it would be really useful for medical students to watch.”
A re-occurring response was that it needed to be seen by a wider audience and that it had huge potential as a teaching resource for a wide range of health professionals, as well as the general public. However, a play is naturally limited in the number of people it can reach, so, the idea began to form that we should turn Kinetics into a film.
The Kickstarter Campaign
The aim of producing a film was to create an innovative and accessible teaching resource for people with the condition, medical professionals, carers and the general public. We wanted to be able to inform people about Parkinson’s in an engaging and entertaining format as well as raise questions about patient empowerment, breaking bad news and providing much-needed insight into living with a chronic condition.
In order to make the film a reality, we needed funding. We had the director and film crew all in place, but we had to raise the £30,000 necessary to make it happen. The Kickstarter campaign ran from the – 30 June
Filming took place over five days and then it was over to the brilliant Band Films to work their magic.
Kinetics premiered at the Dorchester Plaza Cinema on the 10th January 2018. It is not a filmed version of the stage play, but a standalone film in its own right. It really was a wonderful moment to be able to share it with our supporters, family, friends, people affected by Parkinson’s, and the general public. You can see feedback from audience members and various reviews here.
We are holding various screenings across the country (you can find the dates and venues on our ‘Tour’ page) and are encouraging Parkinson’s groups and support networks to host their own. To find further information about viewing the film – including how to organise a screening yourself, to enquire about attending a screening, or to order the DVD – please find our details here.
We are incredibly proud of our achievements, from the theatrical production of Kinetics to our film. But this is by no means it for us. We are going to continue spreading awareness about, and support for, Parkinson’s Disease. We hope to take the stage play back on tour, hold more screenings, and perhaps even take our film to greater heights.
During the development of Kinetics, we founded DT2 Productions. A registered charity (CIO 116 5720), it was formed with the objectives of advancing education about PD and helping sufferers come to terms and cope psychologically with their condition. If you would like to support the charity, please do get in touch.
We have been fortunate to have featured on a number of Radio Programmes, including Woman’s Hour and Dr. Phil Hammond at BBC Radio Bristol. Please follow the links below to access the catch-up programme:
Finally, we would like to thank the following groups for their amazing support. Without them, we would not be where we are now.