Triage – An Interview Series by Yana Ross and The Ensemble

published on 18. December 2020

In times of theatre paralysis, Yana Ross, in-house director at the Schauspielhaus Zurich, turns to a difficult, substantive question: the treatment of Covid-19 and the issue of triage, i.e. the prioritisation of patients according to severity, in international comparison. What ethical guidelines and procedures are used to prioritise medical aid when there is a particularly high number of patients and insufficient resources?The series of research interviews is a search for answers in the midst of this pandemic. In order to understand such an experience, Yana Ross tries a social experiment: actors from different countries talk to doctors, philosophers and politicians about ethical decisions and the effects of the crisis.


"Simultaneousely, the virus is indiscriminate and deeply discriminative. Because according to categories or regarding race and gender, we have varying access to resources, medical resources. We are also bound to varying working conditions."

Vanessa E. Thompson (Postdoctoral scholar and lecturer, The Institute of Sociology at Goethe University Frankfurt), Dr. Michael de Ridder (Internist, Author), Hermann Gröhe (Member of the German federal parliament, Former Health Minister) and Thelma Buabeng & Sebastian Rudolph


"Before thinking about how our society would change, I think we should plan the change in society where eugenic thought is rampant and justifies racial and disability discrimination." Yasuhiko Funago (Member of the House of Councillors, Parliamentary office)


1.In talking about airplane air circulation, Dr. Nakajima confirmed that air is also circulating from outside, not only recirculating in the air-cabin.

2. "Japanese Society for Palliative Medicine" is correct name for the health care organization mentionned here.

With Dr Takashi Nakajima (Director of Niigata National Hospital), Yasuhiko Funago (Member of the House of Councillors Parliamentary Office) and Sachiko Hara, Actress


"There's an ugly resurface of eugenics discourse in France... If you start with the old people, you continue to the physically or mentally handicapped and then you can add the gypsies, the Jews or the Muslims. That's what's dangerous. Starting with little phrases that present themselves as the defense of the young who must be saved because the old have already lived... You know how this can end..." Dominique Vidal (Journalist, Historian)

With Dominique Vidal (Journalist, Historian), Dr. Pierre Jacques Raybaud (General physician/ family doctor), Eric Fourneret (Philosopher, researcher at Braintech Laboratory, Inserm U1205, Grenoble Alpes University (UGA)) und Perle Palombe (Actress)


"We cannot see into the future but we can learn from history: many of us, the majority of people on earth, think slavery was wrong and we say '100 years ago, how could they enslave others and use, rape, kill them, force them to work for free'; 100 years from now, people will look back to us and think and ask 'how could they treat migrants, refugees, how could they let people die in the Mediterranean Sea, let them die in moria camp in Lesvos, how come so much more black lives are lost in the USA.' They’ll look back at us and judge us this way. This question is crucial: 'How could we do that?' And this is still in our hands to change it." Shahram Khosravi (Professor of Anthropology, University of Stockholm)

With Shahram Khosravi (Professor of Anthropology, University of Stockholm), Johan Styrud (Chief Physician, Danderyds Hospital Chairman of the Stockholm Medical Association), Aylin Fazelian (Member of the Swedish Parlament, Social Democratic Party) und Mattias Nordkvist (Actor)


"These ethical discussions on triage will start to germinate, after having passed the medical excitement we will experience a psychological backlash then: how did we get these triage decisions accepted? We will be able to enrich the directives with ethical notions, human experience, psychological experience. And I hope we won't need to use them." (Doctor Professor Thierry Fumeaux, President, Swiss Society for Intensive Care Medicine (SSICM))

Mit Doctor Professor Thierry Fumeaux (President, Swiss Society for Intensive Care Medicine (SSICM)), Markus Schefer (Professor Of Constitutional Law, University of Basel), Jean-Daniel Strub (Ethix – Lab For Innovation Ethics, Co-Founder) und Michael Neuenschwander (Actor)


"This kind of post-modern Foucaudian approach: 'Oh, there's more surveillance, oh these measures will become permanent....' - I think this is highly exaggerated. We are dealing with a specific pandemic which spreads through social contact, and most governments, I think, are doing an OK job. Let's take Lithuania, these measures are all rational. When pandemic is over and some temporary changes are still in place, then we have to go out to the streets and make a massive fuss if our freedoms are no longer there for us, we will fight to get them back." (Andrius Bielskis, Professor of Political Philosophy, MRU)

With Tomas Jovaisa (President of the Lithuanian Society fo Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care and Divisional Director, BHR University Hospitals NHS, Intensive Care, UK), Andrius Bielskis (Professor of Political Philosophy, MRU), Tomas Tomilinas (Member of the Lithuanian Parliament, Vice-chairman, Lithuanian Peasants and Greens Union Party) and Denisas Kolomyckis (Actor)


"We are like cows or sheep right now, one has got up and started moving and the rest just follow. We don't know anything right now, we don't have answers yet just following the first one that started the journey." Helga Vala Helgadottir (Member of parliament, Chairperson of the Welfare Committee)

With Ragnar Freyr Ingvarsson (Lead Physician for COVID outpatient response team in Iceland), Helga Vala Helgadottir (Member of parliament for the opposition party Social democrats in Iceland, Chairperson of the Welfare Committee), Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir (Professor of Philopsophy, University of Iceland) and Gudrun S. Gisladottir (Actress)


“Governer Cuomo put a law in place that protects doctors from being sued if we chose not to ventilate someone. Luckily, there is no shortage of equipment at the moment, but having this protection freed up doctors to think of the patient holistically and not worry about legal complications.” Keith A. LaScalea, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine

With Claire Finkelstein (Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, Director Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, University of Pennsylvania Carey School of Law), Keith A. LaScalea (M.D., F.A.C.P. Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine), Heide Engel (Physical Therapist, Critical care UC San Francisco Medical Center), Stephen N. Xenakis (M.D. Brigadier General (Ret), U.S. Army) as well as the actors James Lloyd Reynolds and Alicia Aumüller (Actress)


“It’s also been said 'We are the virus', both because we have been, in some ways, the cause of it, with certain behaviours towards the environment and the animals, therefore we should, in order to attack it, attack somehow ourselves.” Roberto Esposito, Professor of Philosophy

With Marco Vergano (MD, Chair of the Ethics Section, Italian Society of Anesthesia and Intensive Care (SIAARTI)), Roberto Esposito (PhD, Political Philosopher, Biopolitics. Professor, Scuola Normale Superiore), Barbara Lori, (Regional councilor, Emilia-Romagna, Head of Group of the Economic Policies Commission, DP) and Marco Sabatino, Actor