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Birkbeck student uses experience of cancer to develop show for Edinburgh Festival

Theatre and Drama student Karen Hobbs was diagnosed with cancer during her studies, and used the experience to develop a show for the Edinburgh Fringe

Karen Hobbs, a student of Birkbeck’s BA Theatre and Drama Studies, will be taking a show that she developed as part of her final year project to this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

Karen was in the third year of her degree and aged just 24 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The diagnosis came as a complete shock to Karen, but she was able to continue with her degree with the support of her tutors and classmates and when it came to developing a project for her final assessment Karen found that the experience provided her with rich material to work with. She began work on what has now become her finished show: Tumour Has It.

Karen is taking Tumour Has It to this year’s Edinburgh Festival, from 3 – 29 August. The show takes the audience through her experience of receiving her diagnosis and the ensuing treatment, as well as challenging the stigma of having a gynaecological disease, raising awareness and celebrating life.

Dr Fintan Walsh, Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies, said: “Karen's commitment to her degree has been unwavering during her time at Birkbeck, and in the last year she began making theatre about her personal circumstances brimming with honesty, insight and wit. We are very proud of her achievements as a student and as a theatre maker, and look forward to seeing her career develop.” 

Karen said: “The most important thing I've taken away from my time at Birkbeck is how to use your work to respond to a social issue, which is what I've done with my show. I think that sometimes it is easier to educate and inform people, especially on uncomfortable subjects, through something creative.”

Listen to Karen speaking about her experiences at Birkbeck and the development of the show (contains strong language).

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