British Science Week: The Influence of Florence Nightingale

Tomorrow marks the start of British Science Week (11 - 20 March), a ten-day celebration of science, statistics, technology, engineering and mathematics.

This week at Forest Arts Centre, New Milton and Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham, we're pleased to be hosting performances of Florence: The Lesser Known Life of Florence Nightingale, written and performed by Louise Jordan, and we thought there would be no better time to put the life of the iconic figure under the microscope, coinciding neatly with our International Women's Day celebrations.

One of the most famous names in British history, Florence Nightingale is best known as a pioneering statistician who used data to call for government accountability and demand equal healthcare for all. A British nurse and social reformer who was the foundational philosopher of modern nursing, the impact of her work is still at the very heart of today's society. But there are many aspects of Florence Nightingale's life and identity that aren't so widely known.

"At a time when women weren’t entitled to vote, Florence used every tool at her disposal to achieve change that impacted people living in poverty around the globe."

Having researched the pioneer's life heavily surrounding the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth in 2020, Louise Jordan felt inspired to create a show that celebrates Nightingale's legacy, and through song and storytelling, Louise puts the myth of ‘the Lady with the Lamp’ under the spotlight, exploring themes that sit at the heart of all of her work - equality, representation and social justice.

We spoke with Louise Jordan about what inspired her to use Nightingale as her muse ahead of her performance tomorrow evening.

"Florence Nightingale is such a well-known woman (she even appeared on the British £10 note), yet so much of her life and legacy remains untold. Whilst researching the production, I was astounded at the volume and breadth of Florence’s work - she spent decades campaigning for social reform worldwide."

"In addition to working as a nurse for two years during the Crimean War, Florence found new ways to bring statistics to life in order to campaign for change; she spent less than two years as a nurse during the Crimean War, yet she lived to the age of ninety - an incredible life with so many stories to tell.

Florence spoke truth to power and championed equal healthcare for all, not just for the wealthy and privileged, but for everyone. The image of the lady with the lamp is outdated - it reduces Florence’s legacy and minimises the impact of her achievements, and that is the purpose of my show."

"At a time when women weren’t entitled to vote Florence used every tool at her disposal to achieve change that impacted people living in poverty around the globe.

I want this show to bring Florence Nightingale to life as a three-dimensional human and to consider how legends, myths are legacies are created. Why are Florence Nightingale’s extraordinary and wide ranging achievements so often overlooked? Who decides how our shared cultural heritage is passed on?"

If you're keen to learn more of the life of Florence Nightingale, Louise Jordan will be at Forest Arts Centre, New Milton - Friday 11 March: Book now, and Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham - Saturday 12 March, 7.30pm: Book now.

“Art  and  history  combined  to  make  great  entertainment  that  also educates... a  great  show... I  whole  heartedly  commit  it  to  you,  as  a good night out.”

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