FESTIVAL OF CHICHESTER: Bittersweet play about growing up

Who Cares?

Who Cares?

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Greg Mosse returns to the Festival of Chichester with another play pitched at young actors just moving on from Chichester Festival Youth Theatre.

Following the success of last year’s hit Self-Help, Chichester-based Greg is back with Who Cares?, a bittersweet comedy about growing up, set in a family without adult role models.

Young actors and puppeteers promise a story full of drama, sympathy, wit and imagination with performances on Saturday, June 18 at 2pm; Sunday, June 19 at 2pm; and Wednesday, June 22 at 2pm in St John’s Chapel, St John’s Street, Chichester.

A big part of the point for Greg is that the piece is designed, produced and directed by a young creative team. He is a playwright happy to hand over the reins.

“There is a gap for young actors just as they are leaving the youth theatre and maybe waiting to go on to drama school. Maybe they can’t apply for drama school because they are concentrating on their A levels, and so they are effectively becalmed for a year.

“I was very keen to write a show for them – a show in which you have 16-year-olds playing 16-year-olds, 19-year-olds playing 19-year-olds, where all the roles are age appropriate. It’s like a bridge where they are getting ready to play adult roles.

“Instead of asking them to play each other’s mother and father, I wanted the ages to be right. The idea is that there are three siblings, two sisters and a brother. They just have the one parent, their mother who is clinically depressed and does not speak, and out of this dramatic idea that she does not speak, I had the opportunity to put the three young actors on stage with a full-sized puppet. The mother is a full-sized human puppet who is animated by the puppeteers within the group.

“The younger sister is about to do her GCSEs and she is desperately concerned that every time she goes to school, her mother might do something foolish like harm herself, maybe through inadvertence or by accident. She is very torn between her big summer deadline and looking after her mother.

“The younger sister is called Mini. Her older sister is called Aurora, and Aurora is trying to hold down two jobs in order to pay the bills and keep the family running, but there is something that she knows about the mother that Mini does not know and she is very keen that Mini does not know it because it would distract her from fulfilling her academic prowess.

“And then there is the brother Max who is a year older. He has left home, but they are expecting him back any moment. He has news, and they don’t know what the news will be.

“That said, with all the family drama going on, the piece is really a comedy, and all the characters are very bright and intelligent and sparky. In the face of difficult situations, they are constantly making jokes and ribbing each other. It gives them a chance as performers to convey the drama and the intense emotion through banter and wit and repartee.”

The piece will be directed by Abi Rutter, from the youth theatre: “She and I met and talked through what she might do with the show, and I was immediately convinced she would do a brilliant job, and from that moment, I was happy to be an absent writer. If there is something I can help with, she can obviously phone me, but the reason that I write for the theatre is that I want to give the show to the creative team. I don’t want to keep control of it. I want to hand it over to them.”

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