Joe and Ella are a great team – they make each other laugh, help each other out and tackle all the chores their busy lives throw at them. But one morning things begin to change when Joe gets all tangled up and Ella has to start doing things alone. What will Ella do now? Will she be able to continue as before, or will it all get to much? If only she had a little help…
Based on the experiences of young carers, this piece explored what it means to look after someone else when you are young. In a uniquely designed immersive space, the young audience helped the performers look after each other, stepping into the shoes of young carers.
Need a Little Help was a deeply moving and joyfully uplifting piece of interactive and physical theatre in co-production with Tangled Feet.
Need a Little Help undertook two short national tours between 3 March to 14 May 2016. The production was revived in 2018 between 9 March to 12 October in a new version of the original production especially adapted to be more flexible technically for non-traditional venues (i.e. community settings, libraries, nursery / school settings etc.).
The show went on its fourth revival tour from 2 to 28 March 2019 including visits to South East and London venues plus a series of school gigs in Luton, Milton Keynes, West Sussex and Surrey. For school audiences, the production was being accompanied for the first time by a Learning Resource and DVD for Primary Schools to talk about Young Carers in the classroom.
You can access the script of this play via the British Library’s MPS Modern Playscripts Collection.
“Need a Little help is story about a father and daughter. They have loads of fun – they are adventurous, playful, very physical and always playing games – but one day the father starts to become ill. This is the story of what happens when his daughter steps in to the role of the carer to look after him.
“We portray the illness in the play by having the father getting his arm caught in a long silver tube. The young people find this hilarious, but it is also quite meaningful and poignant for the families.
“Over the second half of the play the daughter’s looking after her dad – she’s cooking for him, cleaning and going shopping – and it’s a new relationship that they’ve found when she steps into this new role and looks after him.
“There are moments of participation when the young audience step onto the stage and help the characters complete their tasks. The whole show ends with one giant play celebration. We have a big play session where everyone gets involved playing with feathers. It is fantastic to witness.”
“A cohesive, innovative, involving piece of storytelling.”
Flossie Waite, Children’s Theatre Reviews, 20 Jan 2015
“Rarely is children’s theatre as profound whilst joyously riveting as Need a Little Help”
Audience member 2015
“A wonderful production full of heart and carrying a really important message! Beautifully put together!”
Audience member 2015
“Still thinking about Need a Little Help. Such clever and moving treatment of the subject matter.”
Audience member 2015
Need a Little Help: Children’s Theatre Reviews, 20 January 2015
Need a Little Help: Docklands and East London Advertiser preview feature 15 January 2015.
Need a Little Help: Syndicated interview with Director Nathan Curry.
Press release: Need a Little Help
Nathan Curry is the Co-Artistic Director of Tangled Feet and the Associate Director of Greenwich + Docklands International Festival. He is also the Director of Need a Little Help, a moving and uplifting show inspired by the experiences of young carers for ages 3-7. We caught up with Nathan to find out more about the show, audience participation and pink feathers!
What is Need a Little Help about?
Need A Little Help is about looking after other people. It’s about a father and daughter who are a great team and spend a lot of time together. One day the father becomes incapacitated (in the show he gets his arm stuck inside a long metallic tube) and the daughter has to start to help him out, do more work around the house and care for him. The tube can represent many things but in some way there is a change in their relationship and things can’t be the same again.
What was your inspiration for the story?
The piece is inspired by the experience of young carers. These stories are often hidden behind doors and walls and happen inside people’s homes, but have a huge impact on young people’s lives. We wanted to shine a light on the world of young carers. Over the last two years we have been working with a group of young carers in South London, facilitating drama workshops with them. The show is inspired by their stories.
How did the piece come to fruition?
Having spent some time with young carers we were taken with how adult they had to behave, yet they were still in children’s bodies. They showed huge capacity for care and nurture. We wanted to try and find a way to share this theatrically, but with an uplifting, fun and touching story. We also knew we were making a show for under 8s, so it had to be appropriate and accessible for them. We initially did some research and development on what the style of the piece would be and then built from there.
So what can audiences look forward to?
Great performances from our two actors Mario and Sarah – physically exciting yet moving too. Some live music, some surprising props and some chances to get involved.
Audience participation is very important to the show. What was the thinking behind this?
We wanted the audience to be offered the chance to understand and feel what it’s like to be a carer and to physically care for someone else. The show is completed by the involvement of the young people. It’s about taking care of each other.
Pink feathers feature on the print material. What role do they play in the show?
Come and find out! They make a surprising entry and there is a chance to get right in amongst them. When we’ve previously performed the show parents said their child kept playing with the pink feather at home.
Describe the show in three words.
Surprising, moving and playful.
What would you like audiences to take with them after seeing the show?
A feather (I have mentioned that already). That we have great capacity for caring for each other, that it comes naturally to children but they need support when they have to look after someone in their family.