Briton to induce epileptic seizure as performance

Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:35pm EST
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - An epilepsy sufferer has courted controversy in Britain by creating a public performance in which she will attempt to bring on a seizure and allow the audience to film it on their mobile phones.

Rita Marcalo, who suffers around two seizures a year even on medication, has stopped taking treatment ahead of next month's production of "Involuntary Dances," which she claims is to raise awareness of epilepsy, the Telegraph newspaper reported.

But Marcalo, who directs a dance theater company, is facing criticism for putting herself at risk and for the voyeuristic nature of the 24-hour event which is being funded by a 13,889-pound ($22,910) government arts grant.

People will be invited to film her at Bradford Playhouse in northern England's West Yorkshire region, where she will use strobe lighting, fasting and raise her body temperature in an attempt to bring about a seizure.

"One of the reasons I am doing this is because epilepsy is an invisible disability," Marcalo told the newspaper. "As an artist I am very interested in this idea of doing something in my art that is the opposite of what I do in my life. In my own life it is private but in art I make it public."

She said that anyone could see epileptic seizures on Google or YouTube that have been filmed on mobile phones without the consent of the person having the seizure.

"Part of me doing this is to address the voyeurism. I am saying, I am choosing to let you do this," she said.

Epilepsy organizations have expressed concern about a patient attempting to bring on a seizure for the entertainment of others.

"I am concerned about the potential danger of a patient stopping their medication to induce a seizure," Epilepsy Action Chief Executive Philip Lee said.   Continued...