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TERMINAL by Peter Wood

‘Terminal’ from Love and Information written by Caryl Churchill, is a scene that shows a doctor giving their patient a terminal diagnosis. The doctor says “ Well let me say ten percent of people with this condition are still alive after three years.” It is not mentioned exactly what this illness could be but with this statistic, I found out that it is ‘Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis’ or ‘Motor neuron disease’. Shortened to ‘ALS’ or ‘MND’.

“While the average survival time is 3 years, about twenty percent of people with ALS live 5 years, ten percent will survive 10 years and five percent will live 20 years or more.” -

A lot of people do know about the disease because it was popularized by a viral Internet challenge called ‘The Ice Bucket Challenge.’ This challenge involved pouring a bucket full of ice and water over your head and then nominating 3 other people to do this challenge. If you accept the challenge you must: record yourself doing the challenge, donate $10 to research and then nominate 3 more people. Failure to accept the challenge means you are expected to donate $100 to research.

This was created to raise awareness of ALS and encourage donations to ALS/MND foundations to help further research in hopes to find a cure. It went viral from July-August 2014. This was an international phenomenon involving celebrities, politicians, athletes; such as Oprah, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Lady Gaga, LeBron James, and Ben Stiller to just name a few.

MND Australia released a statement saying, “Since the inaugural Ice Bucket Challenge in Australia on 10 August 2014, over 60,000 supporters have donated more than $3 million to MND Australia and state MND associations. We thank each and every one of you for getting involved and helping to change the future of ALS/MND.” - And this is just one Australian foundation out of several located worldwide.

With all the awareness circulating the Internet and donations being made to research, many people have moved on from this viral trend. This terminal illness kills 730+ people every year in Australia. That’s 2 people a day. A sad reality that can affect anybody, no matter what age, gender, race, sexuality, socio-economic background or environmental factors.

Statistically, the data surrounding those who are diagnosed with this illness is vastly different from case to case, so it’s difficult to give specific numbers about a new patient’s life expectancy. Despite the viral trend of hope and inspiration brought forth to the world – Churchill perfectly captures (in 5 lines) the struggle of how little science knows about the disease and how it morbidly affects the patient.

Come see actors Peter Wood and Darcy Jones perform this scene in Love and Information co-presented by Robert The Cat and Metro Arts. August 2019.

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