The Guinea Pig Club

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This month we were able to take a first look at the newly drafted first act of “The Guinea Pig Club” by Craig Adams and Andrew Doyle.

Craig and Andrew have been working on The Guinea Pig Club since March 2016 and already one of the songs from the show has been a finalist in the Stiles & Drewe New Song Award.

The Guinea Pig Club, established in 1941, was a social club and mutual support network for British and allied aircrew injured during World War II. Its membership was made up of patients of Archibald McIndoe at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, Sussex, who had undergone experimental reconstructive plastic surgery, generally after receiving burns injuries in aircraft. The club remained active after the end of the war, and its annual reunion meetings continued until 2007.

The idea to explore this true story as a piece of theatre came to Craig one day whilst listening to a radio interview with one of the few surviving members of the club, he recalls,

“One of the most striking aspects of his account was his memory of Archibald McIndoe, the chief surgeon, playing the piano on the ward in the evenings. This was not merely about physical convalescence, but about psychological healing and developing a sense of community. For me, the fact that music was at the heart of this story made the idea of a musical particularly exciting.”

Craig approached Andrew about the collaboration, and they have been working together on the project ever since. In March 2016 they presented 10 minutes of the show (all that existed) at MMD and MTN’s pitching event “BEAM”. Perfect Pitch who were already talking to the writers about potentially coming on board the project, invited director Roger Haines along to the pitch to see if it was a piece he would be interested in joining them on and supporting as both director and dramaturge. Roger was instantly taken by what he saw and has been working with Craig, Andrew and Perfect Pitch on the piece since then.

This month Craig and Andrew presented the first draft of the first act for a 2 day script workshop with Roger. We were also able to bring in James Hume to have a sing through some of the more challenging music and give us a flavour of how McIndoe’s musical voice may sound.

We’re hoping to put together a staged workshop of the first Act in December, potentially for an audience. The piece is already in great shape – we can’t wait to share it with you very soon!!