Grace Under Pressure

Published on 30 April 2021


Grace Under Pressure - a deeply moving theatrical experience

Health professionals are with us when we’re born, and they’re with us when we die. They devote their lives to caring for us, but how do we care for them? How do they cope with the pressure?

That’s the subject of a play, Grace Under Pressure, to be performed at the Pilbeam Theatre in May.

The play is based on hours of in-depth interviews with doctors and nurses about their experience of training and working in hospitals. It is a surprising, intimate and deeply moving theatre experience that reveals hidden stories of health professionals in their own words.

It has been described as “deeply moving work that is both hopeful and compelling” (

Can a doctor or nurse give a patient the best possible care if he or she hasn't slept for days? What if they are also being bullied or sexually harassed at work? What if they complain about having to work excessive hours, but are told to stop whinging and suck it up? And when and how is there grace and compassion in the enacting of care?

Vividly brought to life by a cast of four extraordinary actors, Grace Under Pressure takes the audience on an unforgettable journey. There will be laughter, there will be shock, and there will be tears. The stories within Grace Under Pressure will leave no audience member unaffected.

Grace Under Pressure allows our health professionals to be humans, and asks the public to have empathy for the often-extreme pressures that is placed upon our doctors and nurses.

Written by David Williams and Paul Dwyer, Grace Under Pressure was inspired by tragedy. In early 2015 there were a spate of suicides by junior doctors in Victoria – four within a month.  While such events are distressingly common within the profession, four deaths in such quick succession rocked the health sector. Something was clearly wrong with the workplace culture of hospitals, and something had to change.

“Over a six-month period, Paul and I interviewed around 30 health professionals – doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators,” David Williams said.

“We asked them to share the passions that drew them to medicine and nursing, about their journey through training and professional practice. We asked them about moments when they felt right at the edge of their competence and capacity. We asked them about moments of joy and satisfaction, moments when they thought, ‘I’ve done good today’,” he said.

“Their responses were rich and generous – surprising, shocking, and at times unexpectedly hilarious. These are important stories to share, and we are thrilled to be able to bring this beautiful play to audiences across the country,” he said.

Grace Under Pressure will be performed at the Pilbeam Theatre on Friday 28 May at 7.30pm. Tickets are $45 for adults, with concessions available. Patrons aged 26 years and under pay $1 per year of age. Contains strong language and adult themes. Age Recommendation: 14 years and above.

Grace Under Pressure is presented by Rockhampton Regional Council and is part of the 2021 See it Live theatre season.

Tickets from the Pilbeam Theatre Box Office , phone 4927 4111, and

Grace Under Pressure was co-commissioned by Seymour Centre and The Big Anxiety, and developed with the support of the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Sydney. The Big Anxiety was assisted by the Australian government through the Department of Communication and the Arts’ Catalyst—Australian Arts and Culture Fund. This tour of Grace Under Pressure has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

Writers David Williams & Paul Dwyer in collaboration with the Sydney Arts and Health Collective; Sydney Arts & Health Collective: Dr Claire Hooker, Associate Professor Louise Nash, Dr Karen Scott, Dr Kimberley Ivory, Dr Jo River, Professor Paul Macneill and Mr James Dalton; Director David Williams; Dramaturg Paul Dwyer; Designer Isabel Hudson; Sound Designer Gail Priest; Lighting Designer Nicholas Higgins; Producer Alternative Facts