Hallowed Ground: women doctors in war


04 July 2019
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Four women. Many stories. A century of service - a new show at this year's Edinburgh Fringe tells stories of the pioneering Scottish Women's Hospitals.

Four women. Many stories. A century of service - a new show at this year's Edinburgh Fringe tells stories of the pioneering Scottish Women's Hospitals.

Edinburgh is the home of The Scottish Women’s Hospitals, founded in the First World War by Doctor Elsie Inglis. Many Australian medical women found their place in these outfits-staffed entirely by women, and they paved the way for the future. One of those women was surgeon Lilian Violet Cooper. Her story, among others of courage and endurance, features in Hallowed Ground.

Set against the landscape of world conflict from World War One through to modern times, four women unite across a century to share their personal stories of active service as doctors in the military.

Lilian, a surgeon in her fifties, denied military service in Australia in World War One, travels abroad to join The Scottish Women’s Hospital, serving in the remote Balkan snowfields. In World War Two, Mary, a specialist radiologist, she too denied service with the Australian Army, finds herself the only woman among 3000 British troops bound for the Middle East.

As a peacekeeper on active service in Iraq, young doctor Tam, plagued by dreams of fleeing war-torn Saigon, reconciles her own refugee experience while rehabilitating the displaced Kurdish people.  Catherine, a surgeon in Afghanistan, reflects on the journeys of the remarkable women who paved the way for her own experience as a modern military doctor.

Written and researched over two years by Carolyn Bock and Helen Hopkins, The Shift Theatre brings together a cast and creative team under the direction of Catherine Hill.

Performances 13 to 25 August 2019 (except 19 August) at the Fringe Drill Hall, 89 Claremont Street, Edinburgh. For details, visit the website.

Image courtesy of Captured Image Photography.