Stories About Physicians and Patients
A Readers' Theater production
of "A Question of Mercy."
"A Face of Stone" by William Carlos Williams
A busy physician takes an instant dislike to a young immigrant couple who bring their infant to the office for a check-up. He stereotypes them and treats them brusquely each time they ask his medical attendance. The story tracks the evolution of this initially poor physician/patient relationship.
"The Girl With a Pimply Face" by William Carlos Williams
A physician makes a house call to an immigrant family's tenement where a sick child requires medical care. He is immediately taken by the young adolescent sister of the baby. In the course of caring for the hopelessly ill infant, the physician helps the girl and deals with the poverty and strong emotions of the children's mother.
"The Use of Force" by William Carlos Williams
A physician called to the home of an immigrant couple must deal with a very sick young girl who refuses to allow him to examine her throat.
"Fetishes" by Richard Selzer
A woman who has never informed her husband about her false teeth is told she must remove them to undergo surgery. She deals with the differing personalities of several physicians in seeking a solution to her dilemma.
"Imelda" by Richard Selzer
A medical student observes a well-respected, arrogant plastic surgeon deal with the sudden death of a patient during surgery.
Stories About Ethical and Social Issues in Medicine
"Follow Your Heart" by Richard Selzer; adapted for Readers' Theater by Ann Beam
The wife of a man whose organs have been transplanted into several patients seeks solace from her grief in an unusual and ethically questionable way. The story puts a human face on organ transplantation by looking at the issue from the perspectives of the donor's family, the organ recipient, and the transplant physician.
"The Enemy" by Pearl Buck; adapted for Readers' Theater by Ann Beam
A white American soldier requests the medical assistance of a Japanese physician during World War II in enemy territory. The Japanese physician dislikes whites and must struggle with issues of loyalty, duty, and racism.
"The Doctors of Hoyland" by Arthur Conan Doyle
A second physician opens a practice in the town of Hoyland and causes the physician who has been in practice there for years much anguish over gender issues.
Stories About Aging and/or Chronic Illness
"A Mistaken Charity" by Mary Wilkins Freeman
Local "do-gooders" convince two independent elderly sisters, one hard-of-hearing and the other blind, to leave their dilapidated rural house and move into an old ladies home in town, with interesting consequences.
"A Question of Mercy" by Richard Selzer
The story is told from the physician's perspective when a terminally ill AIDS patient asks his physician to help him die. Issues included in the story relate to whether a physician assisting a patient to die in order to relieve suffering is an appropriate role for a doctor, the morality of euthanasia, and the nature of the physician/patient relationship.