Aston University makes drama out of crisis

Aston grown in petri dish

6 April 2017

  • Theatre company stages specially commissioned play on antibiotic resistance
  • University teams up with Thinktank to boost awareness of common problem
  • Audience able to participate by voting on scenarios

A drama about the misuse of antibiotics, which was specially commissioned by Aston University, is to be publically premiered at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum on Thursday 13 April.  

Visitors to Thinktank on that day will get the added attraction of being able to take part in The Drugs Don’t Work: A Tale of Resistance, which will be performed by Hobgoblin Theatre Company.   

There will be two 60-minute performances of the play which tells the story of antibiotics being misused by a celebrity who bullies a GP into prescribing them – and the consequences.

A panel of health and science experts led by awarding-winning science communicator Anthony Hilton, Professor of Microbiology at Aston University and star of Grime Scene Investigations, will then consider the common misconceptions around antibiotics, while the audience will be able to vote on the scenarios and fire questions at the panel. 

The Drugs Don’t Work is the third in a series of plays commissioned by Anthony who has worked previously with the theatre-in-education company on scripts to raise awareness of sexually transmitted infections and on the super-bug MRSA.

He said: “These everyday topics are important to all of us and our health and welfare but sometimes they can be difficult to talk about. By weaving the subject matter and the misconceptions around them into a drama and also involving the audience, it makes it easier for children and young people, their families and teachers to talk about the issues and how we can all help to tackle them.

“No one wants to be lectured at, so the play is a fun and interactive way of engaging with the public, whilst also raising awareness and knowledge of an important subject,” added Anthony, who is also deputy executive dean of the School of Life and Health Sciences.  

Specially commissioned play about antibiotic resistance
Scene from The Drugs Don't Work: A Tale of Resistance

The performances are being sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC), the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences and by Addmaster (UK) Ltd, which supplies Biomaster antibacterial technology to the healthcare, catering and other industries.  

Paul Morris, CEO Addmaster said: “We are really pleased to be sponsoring Aston University in the delivery of a really important hygiene message that is key in the fight against anti-microbial resistant bacteria.  This message can be confusing and it is vital people become aware of the danger a world without antibiotics presents.  The work the university is doing to raise awarenesssets a great example and will provide a resource for schools and parents alike to become even more hygienic in their daily lives.”

Entry to The Drugs Don’t Work: A Tale of Resistance is included in the admission price to Thinktank on Thursday 13 April, with performances at 1pm and 3pm. The production is suitable for children aged 12 and over. 

The university’s antimicrobial resistance research team will also be “science busking” at Thinktank from 10.30am to 3.30pm on the day, where they will be demonstrating handwashing and its role in breaking the chain of infection. Visitors will be able to participate by using “glitter bug potion,” a UV handwashing training aid, looking at examples of harmful bacteria down microscopes and playing Superbugs, an app developed by the Longitude Prize to show how bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.

Lisa Stallard, manager at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, said: “We have a fantastic partnership with Aston University and we’re very pleased to be hosting these performances at Thinktank. We pride ourselves on providing a fun and accessible environment for learning at the museum and The Drugs Don’t Work communicates an incredibly important message about the growing resistance to antibiotics in an engaging and informative way. We hope visitors will enjoy this thought-provoking show.”


Notes to the editor

  • ·Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has been always been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry.
  • Birmingham Museums Trust is an independent charity that manages the city’s museum collection and venues, including Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum, on behalf of Birmingham City Council. It uses the collection of around 800,000 objects to provide a wide range of arts, cultural and historical experiences, events and activities to deliver accessible learning, creativity and enjoyment for citizens and visitors to the city. For more information go to
  • The award-winning Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, is at Millenium Point, Curzon Street, B4 7XG.
  • EPSRCis the main UK government agency for funding research and training in engineering and the physical sciences, investing more than £800 million a year in a broad range of subjects - from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering.

For more information, call Susi Turner, Press & PR Officer, on 0121 204 4978 or email    

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