Assistant Director to Lee Brennan on ‘Behind Closed Doors’ it has, to say the least, been a rollercoaster of a journey. This project in particular has been extremely important for numerous reasons, but overriding all was the young people themselves participating. These young individuals wanted to create awareness of what it really means to live the life of a young carer and to take away any taboos that might come with it.
As a freelance performer, facilitator and practitioner there were many reasons for me wanting to be a part of this project: I wanted to learn the skills that it takes to direct and devise a show and to grow as a facilitator, learning and working alongside a professional working director. I also felt a strong connection with the project itself, particularly working with young people, which is something that I can feel my career in the arts leaning towards as I do more of it. I also had a special passion for the project due to similar family circumstances that I experienced during my own childhood through to life as a young adult.
Over the course of ﬁve months, Lee and I have worked closely with ten young people from Gorse Hill Studios in Trafford and ten Young Carers from Salford Young Carers. In doing so we have watched them grow as individuals in their conﬁdence, skills as performers and behaviour. Furthermore, we’ve seen them bloom as an ensemble, to the point where you couldn’t identify which group they had originated from. Both groups have enabled themselves to be honest and open with each other, which allowed them to create a strong, safe and successful devising environment. Most importantly, new friendships have been made.
Throughout the process there has been a whirlwind of emotions for myself and the participants, ranging from being happy, exhilarated, empowered and proud right through to feeling frustrated, sad and angry. Over the past couple of months we have worked on building the group as an ensemble and slowly unpicking what it means to be a young carer. One method we used for this was asking questions like, ‘When you hear the term young carer, what does that mean to you?’ ‘What is bravery? ‘What does it mean to be brave?’ and so on. After weeks of improvisation workshops we slowly started to build and devise the show ‘Behind Closed Doors’ coming from what the participants had expressed and talked about within the sessions.
It’s now a matter of counting down the days till the show on the 22nd! I feel that by then they will be able to perform a show that will speak to many people on a personal level. It will pull a tonne of heart strings and open the eyes of people who were blind to what it means to be a young carer. It is guaranteed that I will be an emotional wreck, bursting from the seams with pride. I am also positive that by performing this show and getting the word out, we will create a broader understanding of young carers and their roles. The show will help to inspire more young carers to come forward and claim the support that they need and so rightly deserve.
I have learnt and gained so much from working on this show, not only about young carers in what they do, who they might care for and so on, but also about myself. There are certainly aspects of myself that I did not realise on a personal level before this project. Finally, I have learnt a lot working along side Lee, in terms of facilitation and directorial techniques and skills.
I think when working on a project such as this where the subject matter is close to the heart of those working on it, you can’t avoid eventually opening some doors that for the most part, would otherwise have been left shut. With the help of great support staff and a group of incredibly brave young people, I feel that it has been a huge achievement for us to create a safe environment in which to do so; because actually, whether we like it or not, these lives and the struggles these people face are happening every day. Behind these doors it’s happening.
Written by Zora King, Assistant Director at Stone Soup.