“To sleep or not to sleep?” is a Marionet project, born in the Unknownness Lab, together with the Centre for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of the University of Coimbra (CNC) and the Portuguese Sleep Association, which seeks to artistically address the Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS) and its causes and consequences. This is a disease characterised by the occurrence of breathing interruptions during sleep, still little known, mostly due to the difficulty of diagnosis. It is estimated that there are 80-90% of undiagnosed cases of OSAS in Portugal.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS) is one of the most common disorders which, according to the WHO, affects around 100 million people worldwide. Ageing is one of the risk factors for the development of OSAS. Since Portugal ranks 4th in the ageing index (more than 158 elderly people for every 100 young people), everything points to the fact that OSAS may constitute a major social challenge in the future, with a strong economic impact. In the long term, and untreated, OSAS contributes to the development of several diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, depression and neurodegenerative diseases.
The goal was and is to contribute to increase the knowledge and public visibility of the subject by creating and presenting artistic objects (performance, show and documentary) built from clinical and scientific data, as well as testimonies of patients, family members, doctors and health professionals that regularly interact with sleep disorders and with OSAS in particular.
In addition to the impact on the awareness of people and health professionals about this still little known disease, our plan that includes the collection of data through interviews with a wide universe of people, will also contribute to a better characterization of the disease and its social impact.
Along with the reflection already developed within the scope of the Unknownness Lab, the scientific research on the subject taking place at the CNC, in the project “Early detection of Sleep Apnoea as a new strategy to delay ageing” has been central in the preparation and development of this project.
Initially planned for 2021, the constraints imposed on cultural activity by the COVID-19 pandemic forced the show’s premiere to be postponed to the first quarter of 2022.
“EVENT OF THE UNKNOWN” (Performance)
The Event of the Unknown 2018 had its first edition on September 28th, at that year’s European Researchers’ Night. The first topic addressed in the Event of the Unknown 2018 was Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome, a breathing disorder characterised by breathing stops during sleep – apnoeas – which can vary in duration and frequency.
“THE DREAM MACHINE” (Performance)
The Dream Machine is a performance that results from the activities of the Unknownness Lab, based on the theme of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS) and that was presented at the World Sleep Day event Healthy Sleep, Healthy Aging.
A group of Marionet artists and scientists from the Centre for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of the UC have been meeting regularly and discussing the theme, and some results of these reflections have been shared publicly.
On the 15th of March 2019, on the World Sleep Day happened one of those sharing moments. We presented a performance that results from the activity of the Unknownness Lab on the theme of OSAS titled “The Dream Machine”. This performance was presented again on the 27th of October 2020, in the Paulo Quintela Theatre.
“MORPHEUS AND APNOEA” (Show)
Morpheus and Apnea is a show inspired by the theme of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, resulting from the synergy between the theatre company Marionet and the Centre for Neuroscience and Cell Biology of the University of Coimbra (CNC), and had its genesis within the scope of the Unknownness Lab, a research and creation initiative by Marionet in partnership with the CNC, whose purpose is to address scientific challenges from an interdisciplinary perspective.
The show presented, in fragments, the life of a small family facing a moment of strong adversity. The mother, a victim of the Alzheimer’s disease, recently passed away and the father resisted the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea and its treatment.
The show reflects on what we can change with our decisions and what we don’t control that seems to be due to superior forces.
Morpheus and Apnoea was presented on the 18th of March 2022, World Sleep Day, in Convento São Francisco.
Released on 17 March 2023, World Sleep Day, the documentary “Apnoea” follows the research process and the interviews carried out at the Sleep Medicine Centre of the Coimbra University Hospital Centre.
The videographer Laetitia Morais, from Marionet’s team, accompanied patients, health professionals and families in consultations, analyses and treatments. This material served as the basis for the construction of the performance and the show.
This project resulted from the synergy between the Marionet theatre company, the Centre for Neurosciences and Cell Biology of the University of Coimbra and CEIS20, within the scope of the contest for the Promotion of Scientific Culture 2022, which the project won.
After the presentation of the documentary, was held a conversation open to the public and moderated by Sara Amaral, coordinator of the CNC UC science communication office, with the following guests: Isaías Craveiro, sleep apnoea patient, Joaquim Moita, pulmonologist, coordinator of the Sleep Medicine Centre (CMS) of the Coimbra Hospital and University Centre (CHUC), Mafalda Ferreira, senior technician in diagnosis and therapy at the CMS, Núria Madureira, a paediatrician in the areas of pneumology and sleep at the Coimbra Paediatric Hospital, Ana Rita Álvaro, researcher at the Centre for Neurosciences and Cellular Biology at the University of Coimbra (CNC UC), a specialist in sleep disorders, and Mário Montenegro, artistic director of Marionet and of the documentary “APNEIA”.
“MORFEU” – MARIONET DIGITAL (Digital Artistic Object)
Although they do not replace the face-to-face relationship, essential to the performing arts, digital media have developed significantly and have gained their own space in today’s societies, for all generations, especially the younger ones.
The Marionet Digital project consists in the creation of short filmed theatre plays, which enable a more comprehensive and contemporary theatre. In this context, we focus our attention on showing another side of health problems that many people live with on a daily basis.
The first manifestation of this project, conceived for the digital world, premiered on the 28th April 2023, through Marionet’s various platforms.