ECZEMA! is a cumulative performance work for one voice and pipe organ, written and directed by Maria Fusco, commissioned by National Theatre Wales to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS.
ECZEMA! explores the life of eczema, a skin condition affecting an estimated 15 million people in the UK, including the writer herself. The work makes a distinctive cultural space, embodying what it is to live in co-occupation with eczema.
Fusco collaborated with health professionals from bodies such as Centre of Evidence-Based Dermatology, Eczema Society, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, NHS Wales,
co-developing a prototype ‘scratch glove’ with motion-capture specialists, depicting the pattern of her own scratching, to create a graphic score for ECZEMA!’s sonic environment.
With additional funding from the Wellcome Trust, Fusco led national hybrid writing workshops, facilitating testimonials from adult sufferers, which she incorporated into each new iteration of the
script. These workshops have been taken up as good practice by dermatologist healthcare professionals for use to assess the perceived long-term health and social outcomes among eczema sufferers.
Premiering July 2018 in BBC Wales Symphony Hall, Cardiff, with a day-long contextualising symposium, the work toured to Whitworth Museum, South London Gallery and the British Association of Dermatologists annual conference (all 2019). Fusco has written a chapter on the project’s distinctive research methods (‘The Stakes of Form’, 2020).
The live performance and full script are accessible as a vinyl record and digital download, produced by Accidental Records, distributed internationally. The work has received coverage in international press including: The American Organist Magazine, Art Monthly, Frieze, The Guardian and The White Review. Fusco has been invited to speak as a keynote at many venues about the project, such as The National Centre for Writing, Norwich (2019).
ECZEMA! was shortlisted for an AHRC Medical Humanities award (October 2020).