Matt Woodhead is the Artistic Director of LUNG, a verbatim theatre company whose acclaimed show Who Cares will be appearing as part of Trailer Story, a new programme of touring performances from English Touring Theatre.
Inspired by ETT’s origins as Century Theatre, who toured the UK in a pop-up space, Trailer Story performances will be housed in a truck, usually used to tour production sets around the country, but reimagined as a space for artists and audiences to meet.
Who Cares is playing Newcastle: 30 July – 31 July at 6.30pm and Keswick: 7 – 8 August at 7pm. More information and tickets can be found here.
Who Cares will be appearing as part of ETT’s Trailer Story, what can you tell us about the play?
Who Cares is a verbatim play that was co-created with a group of young carers in Salford. Adapted from more than 100 hours of interviews, the play tells the real-life story of a group of teenagers who had no choice but to become carers for their parents
In 2016, four teenagers were invited to the Lowry in Salford and asked if they would like to make a verbatim play about their lives. We wanted to carve out a space and give these young carers the biggest platform possible to tell their own story, in their own words. Antonia-Rae, Ciaron, Kerry and Paige took up the challenge and said yes.
For two years, I interviewed them in a classroom at the venue. These young carers and their families were involved in every aspect of the creative process. They cast the actors who performed in the show, their favourite tunes formed the soundscape of the piece and they gave feedback on different drafts of the script.
The play has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and performed at The House of Lords. Over 200 hidden young carers have been identified as a direct result of seeing the show. We’re thrilled the play is appearing as part of English Touring Theatre’s Trailer Stories.
Why did LUNG want to explore the impact of the care system on people in the UK?
The play came about as a result of a deep collaboration between The Lowry and Gaddum (who support young carers in Salford.) Lynsey O’Sullivan who is the Director of Learning and Engagement at The Lowry asked LUNG to meet some of the young carers she was working with and we haven’t looked back.
The failings of the government are covered widely in Who Cares: the impact of austerity, the cutting of legal aid for benefit appeals… the list goes on. As word about the play has spread, we’ve been bowled over by the number of health workers, lawyers and teachers who have reached out, all bursting with ideas of what could change. We hope this play is a small way of instigating these conversations and igniting this change.
The need to tell this story and champion young carers has never been more urgent. There are an estimated 700,000 young carers who, since the pandemic began, have been providing around-the-clock care for a loved one. Thousands of these children have been caring alone without any support from statutory services. We hope that reviving Who Cares at this urgent time can act as a rallying cry for those young carers who need our support.
What is it about politically driven work that most appeals to you?
Political theatre gets a bad rep. If I had a pound for every time someone has rolled their eyes when I tried to convince them to come and see one of our political shows, I’d be chilling in space right now with Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos.
Political theatre is like any other kind of art. It should entertain, enthral and engage you. The only difference between plays like Who Cares and more mainstream pieces of theatre is that you will hopefully leave our show pumped and armed with the tools to go out and tangibly change the world around you.
What do you hope audience take from Who Cares?
Audiences should leave empowered, charged and ready to stand up and fight for the rights of young carers.
How does it feel to be part of this new programme of touring performances?
We’re thrilled to be a part of this incredible line-up. Everyone performing as part of ETT’s Trailer Stories are at the top of their game. It’s a privilege to be sharing a stage with some of the hottest names in contemporary theatre.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Who Cares?
Come join us and all of the other companies performing at Trailer Story. There is something for everyone with this incredible line up. You won’t be disappointed!
Who Cares is co-produced by LUNG and The Lowry in partnership with Gaddum.