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This project was successfully funded on October 16, 2015

The Withing Project

by Hope Wechkin


This project began in October 2013 when I paid a home visit to a terminally ill patient.  As a palliative care physician, I was there to help with the management of her pain.  During our conversation, she described something she’d noticed during the long months of her illness: that when she was with certain people – some nurses, a few doctors, a few friends—her pain seemed to lessen quite a bit. She noticed that this happened “when the people who are with me act as if just being with me is an activity all by itself, as if, for them, with is an action.”


A few months later, a neuroscientist friend of mine showed me early data from a study that’s being done at the University of Washington.  The data seem to show that when two subjects who know each other are thinking about each other but are separated by distance, there’s a correlation between random visual stimuli shown to one subject and the rate of blood flow as seen on MRI in the visual cortex of the other.  This was stunning to me. I started to wonder if this might be evidence of what my patient had been describing, and of what I’d started calling in own mind, “withing.”


To pursue this question through art might seem like an odd choice for a physician, but as a performing artist I felt drawn to begin to explore this subject through music, theater, and dance.  In early 2014, a small group of artists and scientists gathered to discuss how a performance concerning “withing” might be done. Dozens of discussions, interviews, and workshops later, we had a script, a score, and a plan for The Withing Project, an evening-length performance in three acts with a cast of three actors, three dancers, three singers, a chorus of twenty singers, and four instrumentalists. 


Over the next two and a half months, The Withing Project’s cast of professional actors, dancers, and musicians will be working to bring the score and script to life.  On November 19, 2015, the world premiere of The Withing Project will open at the Jones Playhouse on the University of Washington campus.  This will be Seattle’s first independently produced mash-up of music, dance, theater, science, technology, and medicine for the stage.


We need your help.  Your tax-deductible financial contribution at whatever level you can afford will help us to reach our goal of $15,000.  Although we’ve already received grants from a number of arts organizations in town, we need additional funds to help us with all of the costs associated with a production of this scale: costumes, lights, equipment, documentation, and most of all, salaries for the working artists who are dedicating themselves to this project. We’re making it possible for science and healthcare students to attend the performances free of charge, and we’re also extending this invitation to patients with terminal illness and their families. Any funds that we raise beyond our goal will make it possible to broaden our reach through distribution of archived material to other artistic, educational, and healthcare institutions.


Thank you so much for your interest in The Withing Project.  We’re incredibly excited to bring this work to you, and are immensely grateful for your support.  We look forward to you being with us, in our efforts now and in November at the Jones Playhouse.


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