Exclusive footage from “Islets of Silence”

Playwright says her show must go on during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Official trailer –https://youtu.be/Q_IiCG0WMOQ.

Facebook trailer/event – https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=35908551540794


Despite the current Covid pandemic, a Glasgow playwright is determined her play will continue to shine a light on pancreatic cancer.


She’s adapted her play for an online audience and in the process has also attracted an exclusive soundtrack from one of Scotland’s highly acclaimed bands.


November is pancreatic cancer awareness month and an excerpt of Islets of Silence will be screened online during Thursday 19th November which is World Pancreatic Cancer Day.


Isobel Barrett, Director of Glasgow-based theatre production company, Tram Direct, lost her beloved husband John to the disease. The experience propelled her to write the play Islets of Silence.


Driven by a need to reach as many people as possible, Isobel started touring her play around Scotland earlier this year. Covid-19 meant the tour was cancelled after only three performances.


Isobel felt her mission was incomplete and undeterred, she channelled her energy into adapting her play to a shortened online recorded version. Glasgow-based electro-rockers Unions of Knives have also written an exclusive track called Talk to me Slow, which will accompany the screening.


Islets of Silence has been written from the heart. It’s a play with a purpose – to reach as many people as possible and to shine a light on a cancer which has low awareness.


Isobel said: “I did not know a lot about pancreatic cancer until my husband died of this silent killer. Realising that the arts can deliver a powerful message I wrote this play to raise awareness for others.”


Now Isobel is hopeful her play could reach even more people via its online platform.


Islets of Silence centres around The Gourley family, who are dealing with everyday situations. Parenting, teenagers, growing up, school, work, hopes, dreams, plans for the future, friendships and relationships.


Then life throws a grenade. A pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Everything changes and flips upside down.


Of all the major cancers, pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rates, less than 8% of people survive five years after diagnosis.

However, with earlier diagnosis and optimal treatment, patients can have the best chance of survival.


While the topic is tough, the play is heart-warming and full of humour. There’s a wry Scottish observational view of life and its many ups and downs.


The play has been funded by Pancreatic Cancer Action Scotland (PCAS) and also through Culture & Business Fund Scotland match funding managed by Arts & Business Scotland.


Within the play there’s hope, which resonates with charity PCAS, who continue to raise awareness and have a vision for the 2020s to be the decade of change for pancreatic cancer.


Murray Easton, Head of Fundraising & Supporter Relations for PCS, said:


“Isobel’s resilience and determination to get her play out to increase awareness about pancreatic cancer is incredible. We have a lot of work to do, at present only around 24% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will survive beyond 12-months.


“We need to look at new ways of increasing awareness, as early diagnosis can save lives. When our supporter Isobel Barrett approached us regarding Islets of Silence (The C Word), we thought it was an excellent way to reach more people through the arts; local theatre networks, local press and social media.


“Writing has proved to be very therapeutic for Isobel and we know how much hard work has gone into getting the play to this stage.”


Isobel continued: “The play is about an ordinary family getting through life as we all do until the devastating diagnosis is given. As individuals they all react differently but through it all they never lose the close family bond. Change happens to us all and this we cannot avoid. However, love, hope, and a belief that things will improve will always see us through the dark tunnel that sometimes engulfs us.”


You will be able to see the full version of Islets of Silence at a rescheduled tour during the Spring of 2021.

Access the exclusive shortened online version via https://fb.me/e/3aDQ5TvtK

on Thursday 19th November.


For more information see: www.tramdirect.com

For information on Pancreatic Cancer Action Scotland:



Shortened version of Islets of Silence is supported by Pancreatic Cancer Action Scotland and Arts and Business Scotland.


Written by Isobel Barrett

Filmed by Alex Cormack

Music by Anthony Thomaz (Union of Knives)


Lorna Gourley – Frances Knows

Brian Gourley – Alasdair Ferguson

Sarah Gourley – Aimee Hannah

Gavin Gourley – Sam Fraser


Notes to editor:

About Pancreatic Cancer Action Scotland


Our mission is to improve survival rates of pancreatic cancer by ensuring more people are diagnosed early and that everyone has access to effective treatments, support, information and care.

Pancreatic Cancer Action is the only charity that specifically focusses on improving pancreatic cancer outcomes through early diagnosis.

We raise awareness of the symptoms with the public and ensure that everyone affected by pancreatic cancer is offered access to support, free information and care.

We support and fund innovative research, provide pioneering educational training resources for medical professionals while campaigning to advance healthcare.

By taking action now, together we can make a difference.

Our mission is to improve survival by ensuring more people are diagnosed early and in time for surgery – currently the only potential cure – and improve the quality of life of patients.


We can do this through:

  1. Increasing public awareness and knowledge of pancreatic cancer and its symptoms to achieve early diagnosis
  2. Campaign and lobby the government and key stakeholders for change to advance the standard of healthcare for individuals affected by pancreatic cancer
  3. Train and provide pioneering educational resources for our medical and healthcare communities
  4. Innovative research – we fund it, we support it – to improve early diagnosis and develop effective treatments to improve pancreatic cancer outcomes

5 Offer the provision of practical and emotional support and information to all affected by pancreatic cancer

Now – we are the action charity and action is needed more than ever before!


Further information about pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the 5th biggest cause of cancer death in the UK, however, it is set to become the 4th, overtaking breast cancer by 2026 as other cancers’ survival rates continue to improve. The survival statistics for pancreatic cancer have not changed markedly in nearly 50 years. 10,000 people are diagnosed in the UK each year with one person dying each hour from the disease.

  • Every day, 24 people will die of pancreatic cancer – that’s more than the number who will die in road traffic accidents.
  • Less than 7% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will survive for more than five years – this is because the cancer is very advanced when diagnosed.
  • If patients are able to have surgery and diagnosed early, 5-year survival increases to 30%
  • There is no early detection test for pancreatic cancer.
  • The UK has one of the lowest survival rates for pancreatic cancer in the world.
  • Just under half of patients are diagnosed after admission to A & E.

Almost half of the UK do not know what the pancreas looks like (July 2019, survey based on 2,000 participants)

Pancreatic cancer symptoms include

  • Unexplained and significant weight loss
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort that can come and go, which tends to get worse when eating
  • Indigestion that’s not responding to prescribed medication
  • Yellowing of the skin and/or eyes, dark urine or very itchy skin (jaundice)
  • Fatty and pale stools that are smelly and hard to flush
  • Mid-back pain or discomfort