Why We Tell The Story: In Conversation With Zoe Templeman-Young and Sam McLaughlin

‘Take Care’ uses verbatim theatre to share the experiences of carers and the challenges involved in navigating the care system in the UK. The piece features over 20 different real life stories taken from approximately 70 interview sessions.  In this interview, co-writers Zoe and Sam talk us through what inspired them to write this play and what it’s been like developing this show which started six years ago.

Names: Zoe Templeman-Young (Z) and Sam McLaughlin (S)

Role: Co-writers of ‘Take Care’

Favourite Show/Play:

Z: That’s such a hard question that Sam’s opted out of answering. So no pressure. To be honest, for me it changes all the time. So my favourite play at this moment in time is The Great Wave by Francis Turnly. It’s about the kidnapping by North Korea of Japanese citizens, and was told in such a simple, breathtakingly beautiful and heart-wrenching way that it still is the first play I think of whenever anyone asks that dreaded question… It’s a shame it didn’t have a longer run, it was at The Dorfman at The National for just over a month – but I’d urge anyone to give it a read.

Favourite Part About the Theatre:

Z: I love that you can never predict how an audience is going to react in the live moment of the performance. It’s about the connection that’s made, implicitly, in a room with strangers, that lasts a certain amount of time and then is gone. It’s about the liveness, the in-the-moment-ness of theatre that makes it exciting for me.

S: Okay. So. I interpreted this question slightly differently because my answer is the furnishings. And to explain, hear me out, when I was young and I went to the theatre what stood out massively was the claret red super plush carpets. And the big heavy velvet curtains. And all the gold filigree decorations on the walls. I know this is odd and most probably not the answer you were looking for but, I think going to the theatre is a very sensory experience, which sounds a bit pretentious but also true, and it all builds an atmosphere of grandeur and excitement. Well, it did for me anyway. So yeah. The way it looked affected the way it made me feel – like I was stepping into somewhere very special. And I loved that.

Z: Well that’s a much better answer.

Q: Can you tell us what ‘Take Care’ is all about?

S: Take Care is all about carers of older people. It’s about listening to people who normally don’t have a platform from which they can share their stories and express their thoughts and opinions.

Z: It follows the real life story of Pam, who is fighting to move her mother to a care home that’s closer to her. Along the way you meet loads of other characters, all involved in the care system in some way. There might be some familiar voices in there too, some politicians who weren’t so famous a few years ago as they are now…

Q: What was the inspiration behind creating this show?

S: Zoe and I have both worked as carers for members of our family. And through this we saw that there were a whole range of issues not being addressed for carers.

Z: And it felt only right to make a show that puts these stories and experiences on centre stage, on a platform that they deserve.

S: We also didn’t fancy doing a 10,000 word dissertation at Warwick University and so we began creating Take Care.

Q: For anyone who may not be familiar with verbatim theatre, can you explain how it works and how it differs from other types of theatre?

S: Put most simply it’s documentary theatre.

Z: Yeah, all of the text in our play is word-for-word taken from interviews we have conducted, and the performers listen to the audio recordings to create as close as likeness to the real interviewees as possible. We then edit the interviews into a more dramatic structure, but that’s all. Everything you hear or read is literally exactly what someone has said to us.

Q: You’ve explained that creating this piece was a labour of love which has evolved over the past six years. What has working on this show been like for you?

Z: Firstly, It’s been incredible to be trusted by all of the people who talked to us to tell their stories. It’s also been a really good test – what we knew six years ago about the care system is not the same as what we know now. We have kept updating the text as we go along, broadening our research to make sure every fact is up to date and making bold moves with how we tell these stories.

S: It’s been sometimes tough and sometimes joyful. Bit of a cop-out answer there. We have kept pushing really hard so when break-throughs happen, like being awarded ACE funding for our R&D or when we learnt Take Care was being published – it is really special.

Q: What do you hope audiences at the Vault Festival will take away from ‘Take Care’?

S: So. Prepare yourself because my answer is two-fold. I would love for carers to feel that their stories and views count and that people are interested in hearing them. I want for audience members who have no CLUE about caring to have an increased awareness of this amazing section of society you don’t hear much about. My favourite part of the show is actually the Q&As we do after each performance. We see audiences begin talking to each other and sharing their stories or asking questions about what they can do. I want that, that interest and that realisation to stick with people, so that they continue talking and asking questions about caring. And as a result of that, to see positive changes made in society regarding how we treat and value care givers.

Z: One hundred percent, all of the above.

Thanks for reading! And a huge thank you to Zoe and Sam for the interview. You can catch Take Care at the Vault Festival from 10 – 15 March @ 6.15pm – https://vaultfestival.com/whats-on/take-care/




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