A play about young carers in Salford that “knocked MPs sideways” is about to start a national tour.
Who Cares, by Matt Woodhead, has been drawn from 200 hours of interviews with four young carers from Salford about their lives – as well as input from their families and schoolteachers. Local councillors and MP Barbara Keeley were also interviewed, as well as GPs and young carers’ workers.
The play aims to help to identify the young people not known to the authorities who are carers for disabled parents and siblings without even their friends and teachers knowing. The show tries to point them towards whatever support is available, and will be seen by thousands of young people across the UK as well as offering training and workshops for professionals who work with young carers.
The verbatim-theatre play was written by Matt Woodhead and produced by The Lowry in Salford and LUNG, with the help of Manchester’s Gaddum Centre charity, Salford Carers Service and the Oglesby Charitable Trust and Leche Trust.
The tour can be seen in our area at Oldham Coliseum (October 6-7), Dukes Theatre Lancaster (October 8-9), Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield (October 12-13), The Lowry (November 15-17) and Unity Theatre in Liverpool (November 18-19). Venues have been deliberately chosen to show the work in areas where the need for support services is strongest.
Matt Woodhead – also LUNG’s co-artistic director – said: “Sharing these inspirational stories with audiences across the UK is a real privilege and a vital part of the campaign to raise awareness of this often hidden issue.
“In each venue we’ll educate more people about the plight of young carers and hopefully recruit them as advocates for better funding and support.”
Who Cares was first seen at The Lowry in November 2016, followed by a tour of 27 non-theatre venues the following year that reached over 3,000 young people. Several young carers were identified as a result. The play was also performed at the House of Lords in December that year, for MPs and policy makers.
The show toured again in 2019 and was seen by 4,000 people - some at the Edinburgh Fringe - where it won several awards and recommendations. This February the show “moved indoors” due to Covid and reached 800,000 listeners on BBC Radio 2.
Founded in Barnsley in 2012, LUNG is a campaign-led company that specialises in work using verbatim accounts and condensing them for dramatic effect – a technique used to similarly-powerful effect in Trojan Horse, produced with Leeds Playhouse in 2019 and seen on subsequent tours, about the supposed attempt by radical muslims to take over the running of a Birmingham school.
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