Maternal mental health and motherhood

Leona Allen, Sally Tatum And George Fletcher In After Birth on stage facing directly to camera.

Photo by @camharlephoto

Green Templeton’s Sheila Kitzinger Programme hosted a private performance of the play ‘after birth’ as part of their UK tour, followed by a panel discussion.

The event brought together close to a hundred attendees including midwifery students and staff from Oxford Brookes University, medical students and others from across the Green Templeton community, and interested clinicians and academics from the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Population Health and beyond. It took place at The North Wall Arts Centre in Summertown on Wednesday 23 March.

The play is a dark comedy, with a feminist take on maternal mental health and motherhood – it’s also a story of recovery and hope, rooted in the stories of the many women who experienced psychosis after the birth of their babies and shared their stories with the production. It was developed in Oxford by writer Zena Forster and her theatre company Maiden Moor Productions, in collaboration with academics from the University of Oxford’s National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU), national charity Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) and women with lived experience.

Sally Tatum And Leona Allen hugging one another In After Birth

Photo by @camharlephoto

After the show, Celia Kitzinger welcomed the audience back for a panel discussion, giving some context to the relevance of the play to the Sheila Kitzinger Programme and Sheila’s life and work. The panel discussion was chaired by NPEU’s Dr Rachel Rowe and featured her colleague Professor Fiona Alderdice, APP Director Dr Jess Heron, writer Zena Forster, director Grace Duggan and actors Leona Allen, George Fletcher and Sally Tatum. They discussed the background and development of the play, the themes and issues it raises for women, families and clinicians, and how the play might be used in therapeutic, educational or public health contexts.

Zena Forster said: ‘The show was one of our favourites of the whole tour. It was a joy to play to such an informed crowd – people were so engaged with the performance and brought such insight to the post-show panel.’

Sheila Kitzinger Programme Steering Group Chair Professor Aileen Clarke said: ‘The play was interesting, thought-provoking and very well produced. I found the discussion that followed intriguing with people from all of the three different constituencies participating and sharing – a great success!!!’

The Sheila Kitzinger Programme at Green Templeton College honours the life and builds on the work of the social anthropologist Sheila Kitzinger (1929-2015). Sheila’s comparative research blended intense immersion in different communities, participant fieldwork and strong clinical knowledge to advocate evidence-based decisions on medical, legal and social change.

With thanks to

  • Action on Postpartum Psychosis
  • Arts Council England
  • City, University of London
  • The North Wall Arts Centre
  • TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities)

Created: 1 April 2022