Ancient Civilisations: History of Medicine Assembly
Cast: 30 (easily adjustable up or down)
Duration: around 15 mins not incl. music suggestions
This assembly charts the development of medicine through the ancient civilisations of *Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, Greece, India and Rome - but starting with a brief reference to the Neanderthal era with their infamous trepanning practise! (Thank goodness we live in an age of Aspirin!)
I originally started this assembly with the intention of doing a gallop through medicine, start to finish (i.e. Stone Age to present) - this following a lecture I've recently given on just that i.e. History of Medicine. However, I ended up with rather too many characters (just short of 100!) and decided it just wasn't doable if I was to do the subject any justice (which isn't to say I won't, at some time in the future, attempt a 'Quick Gallop Through History of Medicine' ... as I have done on other subjects in the past).
For now, I have settled for the Ancients era as I am trying to build up Ancient resources - my next script being an introduction to all 6 mentioned above - to put them all into context i.e. when and where.
Going for that Bigger Picture!
(*please note - I have written assemblies and guided reading scripts on all these civilisations, individually)
This Assembly is approximately 15 minutes long (not including music beginning and end) and was written for cast of 30, though numbers can be easily adapted, up or down.
(Exit Taoist monk)
(Enter Hua Tuo, swaying around unsteadily)
Narrator: Ah! Someone else from China! But, hang on a minute!
Hua Tuo: Oh gladly! Just tell me what I can hang on to?
Narrator: (Trying to steady Hua Tuo) Oh dear! I could do with some help around here.
(Enter Pliny the Elder)
Pliny: Allow me! Pliny the Elder from Ancient Greece, at your service! Don’t worry, I can help you with this one!
Hua Tuo: You can help me? And how’s that? I’ll have you know I was a very fine … now, wait a minute, what was it? Ah yes, surgeon!
Narrator: A surgeon, indeed! But just look at the state of you! I for one wouldn’t want you operating anywhere near me!
Hua Tuo: Ah! But you wouldn’t feel a thing! I promise!
Narrator: And why might that be?
Hua Tuo: I was very good at knocking people out!
Hua Tuo: Yes, I, Hua Tuo, was the first person in China to use anaesthesia during surgery! That was during the first century A.D. Someone once said to me ‘Knock ‘em dead!’ Only I managed to bring them round again afterwards!
Narrator: Hmm. Judging by the state of you, I’m guessing you’ve been doing a little practising …on yourself?
Hua Tuo: Well, I am rather fond of the odd tipple. Though wine wasn’t the only ingredient used. I can’t mention the other one!
Pliny: Well, I can certainly help you with the wine.
Hua Tuo: Excellent! One bottle or two?
Pliny: No! No! I’m certainly not going to encourage any consumption of alcohol outside of the operating room! Goodness gracious! That really wouldn’t do. No, I’m just going to pass onto you a little tip about preventing intoxication – should you ever need it.
Hua Tuo? Oh?
Pliny: Indeed. Medicine comes in lots of different forms – like herbs.
Narrator: (To Hua Tuo) Indeed. We’ve already heard from one of China’s great emperors and his interest in medicinal plants.
(Enter Galen, rushing around ‘picking up plants’)
Narrator: Aha! Another Greek physician! Mr. Galen, am I right?
Galen: (Stopping briefly) Ah. So many plants and so little time!