Filmed Reading of Work in Progress Exploring Scotland’s Care System from NTS

Following a call-out process in 2020, National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) commissioned two artists, Nicola McCartney and Lucy Gaizely/21Common to undertake a six-month project to investigate the impact that the arts can make within a care context across Scotland. The outcomes form Care in Contemporary Scotland – A Creative Enquiry.

As part of the project, playwright and dramaturg Nicola McCartney engaged with care experienced adults and young people, community collaborators and sector professionals that results in a filmed reading of a work in progress script, Holding/Holding On, which explores and gives voice to authentic narratives around Scotland’s care system.

The work interrogates how society treats those in care, those who are care experienced and the experience of the carers. It highlights the language used to define them; society’s fascination with media tropes; the entanglement of care with class and poverty and most significantly, the role that care plays in the care system. Holding/Holding On challenges perceptions and asks important questions about the future of Scotland’s care system.

Nicola’s creative enquiry follows on from the Independent Care Review published in 2020 that has at its centre The Promise, a commitment to implement change demanded by the review to ensure that all children grow up ‘loved, safe and respected.’

Nicola McCartney says “Since October 2020, it’s been my privilege to listen to the storiesof care experienced people, social workers, foster carers and others who work within the care system. Actively and compassionately listening to people’s voices and experiences seems to be one of the things that’s really missing in the system right now. And I wanted to hold space for those who wanted to share with me. I’m really thankful to the people who did. 

“… The filmed reading of our work-in-progress puts forward ideas about what’s not working, celebrates some of what is and I hope asks some big questions about what each of us needs to do to really make Scotland ‘the best place in the world to grow up’”.

Nicola McCartney and her collaborators, Charlotte Armitage, Charlie McGonigle and Kenneth Joseph Murray will hold a free online conversation about the making of the filmed reading and the themes behind it directly after the first screening of Holding / Holding On. This will be a panel discussion on Zoom webinar chaired by NTS Artistic Director Jackie Wylie with the opportunity for an audience Q&A. The cast comprises Daniel Cahill, Neshla Caplan, Callum Cuthbertson, Karen Dunbar, Lucy Halliday, Finn den Hertog, Jamie Marie Leary, Sam Steel, Bea Webster.

This event will be BSL interpreted by and live captioned and will be streamed online at from 7pm Wed 30 June until Wed 21 July with free tickets available from 

Lucy Gaizely/21 Common is working with learning-disabled adults to create a new experimental documentary: Non Optimum: When It’s Safe To Do So, addressing personal experiences of care and access to services during the pandemic. This work willbe streaming online at from Thu 1 July at 7pm until Thu 22 July as part of Care in Contemporary Scotland – A Creative Enquiry.

It is supported by the Scottish Power Foundation, The Rayne Foundation, the Hugh Fraser Foundation, the John Mather Trust and Scottish Children’s Lottery Chance to Connect.

Irene Brown

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