New play takes a frank, humorous and heartbreaking look at life behind the doors of a care home
A Gala Durham & Queen’s Hall Arts Centre co-production
Beyond Caring by Christina Castling
Touring the North East of England
from Saturday 7 October - Sunday 5 November 2023
Direction by Jonluke McKie
Design by Ellie Light
“Older people, they’re still people. Like you and me. Just a bit, well, baggier around the edges.”
Beyond Caring, a powerful new play by Christina Castling that takes a frank, humorous and heartbreaking look at life behind the doors of a care home, will be touring the North East of England this Autumn. Based on interviews with residents, relatives and staff, the play, co-produced by Gala Durham and Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, uncovers the reality of caring for others, looking after ourselves and getting older.
Audiences are being invited to meet Queenie, Elaine and Alex, resident, relative and carer at Cedar Point Care Home - a place where the corridors roar with laughter and ache with sadness and where outrageous antics mingle with tough conversations.
Care home resident Queenie, played by Judi Earl, is staging a protest because she wants to have a tab and can’t have one without being supervised. Elaine, whose mum is busy deciding whether she wants to go into a care home, will be played by Jacqueline Phillips, and Alex, a carer working in the care home, will be brought to life by Rosie Stancliffe.
As playwright, Christina Castling explains: “In 2021, as part of the research and development phase of the play, I interviewed carers,
residents and their relatives at care homes across the North East of England to better understand the reality of life working, living or supporting someone living in a care home. Alongside fascinating
conversations with academics, social workers, and care home managers, the result is a play that shines a light on often hilarious and hard-hitting experiences and asks crucial questions about ageing, identity and adult care provision.”
Dr Clare Winter, Counselling Psychologist at Care Home Wellbeing Service, who shared her thoughts during the research and development of the play, said: “Covid19 tragically demonstrated how the needs of older people, their relatives and carers can be forgotten if not championed. It is vital for today’s society that older people’s stories are truly heard and valued. This is a timely and necessary project. I believe that Beyond Caring champions [our carers’] work, gives them an authentic voice and can be a real vehicle for reflection that is much
As part of the North East of England tour, Beyond Caring will feature as the centrepiece at two special celebration events in Durham and Darlington encouraging care staff to explore their wellbeing and help them feel empowered. These events, delivered in partnership with Durham County Council and Darlington Borough Council, aim to provide opportunities for skill-sharing across cultural organisations and councils regarding training, recruitment and retention of social care staff.
Christina added: “We’re delighted that Beyond Caring will help facilitate crucial conversations about the wellbeing of care home staff. We hope the play will have a lasting impact on audiences, whilst demonstrating
how the arts can play a meaningful role in encouraging debate around timely issues.”
To ensure that staff and residents at care homes and their families also get the opportunity to watch the play together and be part of the tour a digital recording of the play will be made available to be screened/shown in care homes across the region for a limited time.
Beyond Caring is the second full-length play by Durham-based playwright Christina Castling. It follows the success of A Way Home, which toured theatre and community venues across the North East of England in 2022.
Beyond Caring has been made possible with funding from Gala Durham and Queen's Hall Arts Centre and with public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England as well as support from the North East and North Cumbria Staff Wellbeing Hub, Creative Darlington,
Darlington Borough Council and Darlington Hippodrome. It has also been supported by the Derwent Valley Partnership, East Durham Rural Corridor Area Action Partnership and Mid Durham Area Action Partnership through the Neighbourhood Budgets of Councillors Watts Stelling, Chris Varty and Jonathan Elmer.
For more information about Beyond Caring and to book tickets visit www.beyond-caring.co.uk
Beyond Caring North East Tour Dates:
• Saturday 7 October, 2.30pm & 7.30pm - Gala Durham
• Wednesday 11 October, 7pm - Queen’s Hall Arts Centre, Hexham
• Thursday 12 October, 2pm - Blackhall Community Centre
• Friday 13 October 7.30pm - Hamsteels Community Centre
• Saturday 14 October, 7.30pm - Clara Vale Village Hall
• Tuesday 17 October, 8pm - Hipp @ The Hullabaloo, Darlington Hippodrome
• Wednesday 18 October, 7.30pm - The Customs House, South Shields
• Thursday 19 October, 7.30pm- Arts Centre Washington
• Friday 20 October, 7.30pm - The Witham, Barnard Castle
• Saturday 21 October, 7.30pm - Trimdon Grange Community Centre
• Tuesday 24 October, 7.30pm - Coundon & Leeholme Community Centre
• Wednesday 25 October, 7.30pm - Hamsterley & Low Westwood Community Centre
• Thursday 26 October, 7.30pm - Witton Park Village Hall
• Friday 27 October, 6pm - Pelton Community Centre
• Saturday 28 October, 3pm - St John’s Hall, Meadowfield
• Tuesday 31 October, 7.30pm - Live Theatre, Newcastle
• Wednesday 1 November, 7.30pm - Live Theatre, Newcastle
• Thursday 2 November, 7.30pm - Casterton Village Hall, Carnforth*
• Friday 3 November, 7.30pm - Kirkby Stephen Sports & Social Club*
• Saturday 4 November, 7.30pm - Frosterley Village Hall*
• Sunday 5 November, 7.30pm - Middleton & Todridge Village Hall, Morpeth*
*These dates are presented as part of the Highlights Rural Touring Scheme
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