by Billy Cowan
- Award-winning playwright explores classroom bullying and teachers’ responses.
- Includes Teachers’ Resources to aid structured discussion and exploration of the themes raised in schools, colleges and beyond. Care Takers is part of an Edge Hill University (Birmingham, UK) research project on homophobia. The team invites everyone, after seeing or reading (or both!) the play, to give feedback by completing the online survey, here (10 minutes).
- Care Takers included on a programme of International Health and Humanities Conference, Health Humanities: Creative Practices as Care (September 2016): a growing worldwide interdisciplinary dialogue across diverse communities of arts and humanities academics and practitioners, clinicians, informal carers, service users and the self-caring public. Conference details are here.
- The play is great for use as a source text for all those interested in the impact of creative practices in health, psychological well-being and enhancing social inclusion of people. Includes: hospitals, social and community centres, mental health centres, schools, and museums.
Ms Lawson, a new teacher at Newall South High School, believes Jamie Harrow is being bullied because he’s gay. She wants to help but Mrs Rutter, the Deputy Head, thinks it will sort itself out. Is Mrs Rutter speaking from experience or is there something more unsavoury about her uncaring attitude? A battle royale occurs between youthful idealism and the system that evolves to choke it.
Most plays that deal with homophobia in schools look at the children in the playground, but what happens when the people in charge of our children are homophobic? Care Takers is an intense two-hander that follows a new teacher who tries to do something about one of her pupils who is being bullied for being gay.
Homophobia remains a fault-line in our society and especially in our multicultural, inner-city schools where original research undertaken by writer Billy Cowan showed these tensions are still very real. The play shows how complicated things have become for teachers in these schools when it comes to dealing with homophobic bullying, and how vulnerable young gay people still are in these environments – especially if the system gets in the way of their safety.
Winner of The Stage Edinburgh Award 2016 and Critic’s Choice in The Stage’s Best of the Fringe selection.
“…like watching all the episodes of a fabulous five-part drama series in one sitting. You’re gripped in the first scene. Then you’re given time to breathe and collect your thoughts before the action resumes and the plot thickens. The pattern is repeated. As the saga unfolds you just can’t wait to see the next one and all sorts of thoughts are going through your head about what twists are still to unfold in this ‘will she, won’t she?’ epic.” Richard Beck, Broadway Babe 5 stars
“Hits home with a punch” Helen Jones, WhatsOnStage 5 stars
“Clever, and very powerful…well written and perceived.” Mark Dee, North West End
About the author
Billy Cowan lives in Manchester, UK, and has an M Phil(B) in Playwriting from Birmingham University. An award-winning playwright, winning two international playwriting competitions – the Writing Out Award for Best New Gay play organised by Finborough Theatre London for Smilin’ Through, and Warehouse Theatre’s International Playwriting competition for Transitions, which was later produced as Still Ill. Smilin’ Through was co-produced in 2005 by Contact, Birmingham Rep and Queer Up North and nominated for Best New Play of the Year at the Manchester Evening News Theatre awards. His other plays include: Daddy (2004), Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (2004), Stigmata (2006), Care Takers (2009/10), The Right Ballerina (2012) and Still Ill (2014). He has also written for M6 Theatre Company, one of the country’s leading Young People’s theatre companies: Web Pal, It Should Have Been Me, and Glee & Glum. Billy also writes fiction. The first chapter of a new Young Adult novel, The Crow Lady, was a finalist at the 2015 Writing on the Wall Pulp Fiction competition, and his flash fiction is published by Arsenal Pulp Press. He teaches creative writing at Edge Hill University and regularly performs his flash fiction at Verbose in Manchester.
Praise for other works
“**** Insightful, provocative and plausible.” Manchester Evening News
“***** A great piece of writing, fiery and quick. Twists and turns, go see it!” Remote Goat