Beyond Caring: a community theatre project

Members of SPCC were flying the flag for carers in the borough in a successful run of Turning a Little Further at The Young Vic in April and May, as part of a community theatre project.

The production, a collaborative effort between female carers from the boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth and The Young Vic’s Two Boroughs Project, was a direct response to the theatres’ recent revival of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days starring award-winning stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson.

Happy Days depicts Winnie, a woman trapped, buried up to her waist in earth; caught between two worlds, and tries to escape reality and the truth as much as she possibly can by chatting away and drawing on her memories and imagination.

The plot for many local carers mirrors the reality of caring for a loved one in an economic climate where the effects of austerity cuts by central government is pushing carers to breaking point and unable to “escape” the pressures of everyday life.

The script, developed with female carers (as the play was about a woman’s experience) and The Young Vic’s scriptwriter Francesca Beard, contained heartfelt testimonies of carers struggling to pay bills, navigating daily routines with caring responsibilities, and receiving a disproportionately low level of financial support given the many hours of hard work.

The result was a moving but also uplifting piece of theatre that engaged the audience from start to finish and received rave reviews. Performed with raw honesty, the abstract, poetic style dance-theatre piece – with its mix of atmospheric lighting and soft delicate undertones – acted as an intimate theatrical platform for carers to tell their stories.

Carers are often hidden and undervalued in society, and at one point during the course of the show, a real-life carer says: “There is no time-table, no rota. You can never switch off because you can’t. And you have to do all the things that need doing. You have to do every job you can think of, all for £66.00 a week.”

According to the charity Carers Trust, three in five people will be carers at some point in their lives in the UK. Turning a Little Further (an actual line from Beckett’s Happy Days) sends a powerful message of courage, freedom, inner strength and hope and proves that inside all people is a story – stories to be read, shared and interpreted.

Elsa Joseph

SPCC Member

For more info on:

Two Boroughs Project at the Young Vic: www.youngvic.org/taking-part

Carers Trust: www.carers.org/

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