The Play and Film, ‘A Space for Sharing’

Background to the Play

In 2016 we developed the play, ‘A Space for Sharing’ to convey through drama our key research
findings from the research undertaken at Sheffield on online health forums. The play is the result of
collaboration between the Sheffield researchers and the professional theatre company Dead
Earnest, resulting in a powerful and memorable drama telling the stories of five fictional women
diagnosed with breast cancer who gain support from an online health forum. The play is based on
the Breast Cancer Care online health forum, and the charity has endorsed the play as an authentic
portrayal of their online health forum.

The play has so far been performed at 8 events enabling audiences of the general public and health
professionals to find out about online health forums, and make informed choices about whether this
support would be useful either for themselves, or for patients in their care. The play shows the
following: -

  • Types of support offered by forums e.g. friendship, emotional support, and information sharing
  • The benefits and potential risks
  • How the online health forum friendships support people through their individual journeys with breast cancer

Audience feedback

  • “This play was spot on. It should be seen by women and men, whether or not they have cancer or have family/friends who have” – member of the public
  • “I was moved by the play, it was very powerful and thought provoking. I have already started to mention online forums to new patients” – health professional
  • “Hearing women's experiences expressed in their own language…rather than an information leaflet, was very powerful” - student

Film of the play
In 2018 we filmed the play so that the play can be viewed more widely.

Before viewing the film, please read the following
The play is a vivid portrayal of the experiences of five women living with breast cancer, please be
aware that the content is of an emotional nature which some viewers may find sad or distressing.
The play includes a scene where a character talks to her friends on the forum about her feelings
about dying.

We are very interested to hear what you think about the play

The play has (required) changed my understanding of the use of online health forums by people living with health conditions
I have a better understanding of the benefits and risks of online forums
Health professionals - I have begun signposting patient to forums after seeing the play