Page last updated at 21:47 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 22:47 UK

New play looks at life after care

By Nigel Wrench
PM programme, Radio 4

Scott, left, and Ryan Fletcher, brothers in real life and now on stage - (Photo by Pete Dibdin)
Scott, left, and Ryan Fletcher, brothers in real life and now on stage - (Photo by Pete Dibdin)

The lives of young people emerging from a lifetime in care is the unusual subject of a new play written by one of Scotland's leading playwrights and staged by the company which made a work about Scottish soldiers in Iraq into an international hit.

365 opens in Inverness next week before going on to the Edinburgh International Festival, under the banner of the National Theatre of Scotland, which opened Black Watch in Edinburgh two years ago.

The new play is set in a "practice flat", a halfway house between care and adult life.

The writer is David Harrower, himself an Olivier Award winner.

Speaking at rehearsals in Glasgow, he said: "It was an area of society that I had no awareness of.

"Being in this flat after being in a corporate parenting environment where everything is more or less done for you. It was an image of the solitude.

"There's a high incidence of some of these people going off the rails sometimes, in terms of alcohol or drugs or crime or something like that. It gave me something pungent to write about."

Social care

Among the young cast are Scott and Ryan Fletcher, brothers in real life - and now playing brothers on stage.

Scott, 20 and still at drama school, said: "I think the world sees these people as thugs when a lot of the time it isn't their fault the way that they've turned out.

"People have to sympathise with these people, that they're in situations that they can't get out of."

David Harrower researched his play in Glasgow's social care system.

He said: "I talked to several care leaders, several kids in care, psychotherapists, the whole gamut of the system.

"For a lot of these young people, the reasons why they're in care, their biography, is obscure to them.

"We're talking about young people growing up without photographs.

"People going through life without being able to own a narrative of themselves."

Precisely because it portrays troubled young people, the production has employed a movement director, Steven Hoggett, artistic director of the physical theatre group, Frantic Assembly.

He said: "A lot of the people that are on stage, a lot of the people we're representing, they're not always the most communicative.

"In fact most of them are not at all. I'm always fascinated about what people give away. It might not be a wilful physical expression, it's moments when they give themselves away."

"I would just hope there's an emotional experience," said David Harrower.

"That you come into a world for an hour and a half or whatever and your perceptions are changed slightly.

"Everything I set out to write, I want to take people in from a different entry point to see that subject matter from a different angle.

"I would hope people would come in and be slightly skewed by what they see."

365 opens in Inverness on August 13th, before travelling later in the month to the Edinburgh International Festival (22-25 August), and in the autumn to London.

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