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The Withing Project: The Short Version

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A lot of people have been asking me, “So, what’s the story with this Withing Project thing?”
So, The Story:
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The Beginning: 
Two years ago, I went to visit patient at her house.  She was on our palliative care service at Evergreen, and I was going to see her because her pain was out of control. I packed up my black bag — I actually use one of those! — and grabbed my stethoscope.

 

She was 42, had liver cancer, and was in a lot of pain. We talked for a long time about all kinds of things, but one thing she said really stuck with me. “When some people are with me,” she said, “it’s like being with me is an action all by itself. It’s as if for them, WITH is a VERB.”

A few months later, a neuroscientist friend of mine showed me early data from a study being done at the University of Washington’s brain imaging lab.  The data seemed to show something I could hardly believe: it appeared from the data  that a visual stimulus seen by one person can affect the blood flow in the visual cortex of another person who was down the hall in an MRI.

Brain Image

I was floored.  I couldn’t stop thinking about the data I’d seen, and I wondered if this might be some sort of evidence — real evidence — of  entanglement between brains. Was that what my patient had been talking about?  Were those brains  “withing” ?

 

The Middle:  I’m a doctor, but I’m also a singer, composer, violinist and a generally impatient person. And I just couldn’t wait for the data to be published to begin to ask this question, to wrestle with it, and to wonder about it as a doctor and an artist.  So  I figured I’d better do what a person does in a situation like this: I’d better write a show.

But of course I couldn’t do it alone. I spent the next year thinking and talking and writing and interviewing people, and tossing around this question with other musicians, dancers, artists, doctors, nurses, teachers, neighbors, scientists, and actors, and even a few very patient friends and family members: “What’s really going on when we’re with each other?”

 
By January of this year, I’d saved up a lot of vacation,  and took off two months from work to write words and music. The Withing Project had already received  two grants, one from the City of Seattle, and one from King County4Culture, so I had some encouragement.

By the middle of March we had a script and score:

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we had a name,

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and then we had a website:

www.thewithingproject.com

And most exciting of all, over the months we’d formed a company of 32 professional actors, dancers, singers, and scientists:

 Cathy Madden headshotHeadshot Coleman Pester TWPYesenia Iglesiascorrie befortThomasaEckertWithing1Philip_Tschopp B&W HeadshotMadeline BersaminaBethGraczykHeadshotRTRich Eckertellis_sunamHope WechkinJonathan-Shue-
Closing in on the End, Part I:

 

We’re now closing in on the first chapter of preparations for The Withing Project.  Rehearsals for the world premiere in Seattle start in earnest next week, our fundraising campaign is going strong (and welcoming new supporters!) as we pass the 50% mark on our way to the minimum goal of $12,000 that we must  raise in order to receive any funding at all:

 

and we’ve started selling tickets for the performances November 19-22:
That’s the story, so far.  We have a company of thirty-two performers, a full crew of designers, technicians, scientists,  videographers, photographers and a director. And we’re ready to go.

 

Now, we can’t wait for you to be with us.

 

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