Public Health Onstage represents an attempt to combine two visions of public health—the scientific and the artistic. Each one of the short essays deals with some aspect of public health, including human papillomavirus vaccination, medication marketing, safe sleep, malpractice, sexual assault, opioid abuse, and many more. Paired with each scientific essay are one or more original short plays that delve into the same or similar subject matter while exploiting its dramatic potential.
Dr. David Holcombe has taken many of the plays from previous publications, including Beauty and the Botox; Old South, New South, No South; Chateau in Hessmer; and Why Go All the Way to Fulton, Louisiana? Some of the medical essays have been extracted from his previously published Mendel’s Garden: Selected Medical Topics. Most of these medical essays have already appeared in Cenla Focus, a regional publication in Central Louisiana, or Visible Horizon, another regional publication by the Council on Aging. Some essays and plays have never been previously published.
Combining the scientific and the artistic can be fraught with peril. Their hoped-for synergy can dissolve into nonsense or, worse yet, alienate the reader who becomes completely unreceptive. My hope is that this volume will break new ground in both public health and theater and appeal to the most discriminating critics. Many famous authors have tackled complex social and medical issues in the past (notably Henrik Ibsen and George Bernard Shaw). Physicians have also distinguished themselves as playwrights while steering clear of medical topics entirely (such as Dr. Anton Chekhov.) But this volume hopes to put the medical and theatrical together for the edification and entertainment of the reader and the potential viewer.
Scientific readers may gain a new appreciation for the persuasive power of the stage, and theater lovers may acquire some unexpected medical information.