read more Jan. 12th 2024

Q + A with Nathan Curry: Belongings

Nathan Curry, Director of Belongings shares a Q+A about the process, content and why you should come and watch it (without any #spoilers)

Full tour dates here

1. Who are Tangled Feet and Rowan Tree and how did this collaboration come about? 


Tangled Feet are a physical theatre company who make inspiring, joyful and thought-provoking performances in theatres, high streets, schools, shops, fields… in fact anywhere there are people. Rowan Tree are a Dramatherapy organisation who use drama as a tool to process complex childhood experiences. 


2. Can you tell us about the process of making Belongings?


Belongings was made over a long period of research, development, workshops and test performances. The piece was co-created with the help of children who had experienced growing up away from their birth families and they supported the actors and creative team to create a show that celebrated how they’ve had to step into their power and owned their own story. One of the major things to come out of the creative process was that there are many themes in a story about growing up in care - identity, friendship, the power of creativity, resilience and building new connections- that all children can relate to.


During the process we played with set that the actors can climb and spin on, different design ideas using costumes and dressing up, games that explore missing people in safe and creative ways – all with the aim of creating something very visual and accessible.


3. In a few sentences what can audiences expect from seeing Belongings? 


Belongings follows the meeting of three children who are all growing up away from their birth families and sees them support each other and play games to understand how their identity is their superpower. The show is about understanding who you are, how your identity is made and becoming the real (brilliant) you.


The show is lots of fun and we’ve had excellent feedback from our young audiences on how much they love to see the characters playing with each other and creating new games and imaginary landscapes. The characters are super relatable and the actors brilliant at portraying the energy and wit of children. 


The show is very visual and physical with a brilliant original soundtrack. There is lots to look at and the actors climb, dance and jump around the set and each other. The design of the show is a large part of how the story is told using visual metaphor and costumes. 


What we’ve heard from audiences is that it warms their hearts, makes them understand and think about different peoples lives and that the show is very funny for anyone aged 7-77!


4. If you could describe Belongings in 3 words what would they be?









5. Without giving too much away, what is your favourite moment in the show?


There are so many! The children in the audience getting to be involved at the end is definitely a highlight (spoiler alert!) My top moment is when the character of Leila and the character of Cleo finally connect. They haven’t completely got on with each other up until this point and they share a hug, share a worry and then create a way forward. It’s lovely. 


6. Why should people come and see Belongings?


In the words of the reviewers, it's brilliant! It is also relatable and accessible no matter what your family background. I think it offers families a safe space to show how sometimes you have to learn to love and accept yourself before things can really change. I also think people should come because it’s beautiful to look at (the design is awesome) and it has an incredible soundtrack.

read more Nov. 15th 2023

Pumpkin-ville: A Dramatherapy placement with Tangled Feet

by Anna Crump


This is my experience as a trainee on placement with Tangled Feet, co-facilitating a small therapy group with young people, and qualifying as a Dramatherapist. Pumpkin-ville is where it all began…


Listen to the recording of this blog here


In my final year of studying Dramatherapy at Roehampton University, I was fortunate enough to do my placement with Tangled Feet, working with young people at an alternative educational provision. I was invited to co-facilitate a small group alongside an experienced and brilliant Dramatherapist, Kelly Jordan. The setting was a Pupil Referral Unit in London offering young people, who were unable to be in mainstream education due to their emotional needs, a curriculum focussing on holistic care. The group was made up of 5 young people aged 14-16, referred to weekly therapy with the aim of improving their verbal communication, self-esteem and sense of identity while expanding their capacity to process and regulate emotions. Most of the group struggled with high levels of anxiety and some were initially non-verbal. We wanted to support them to; form trusting connections with each other, gradually build confidence, feel valued and accepted for who they were, and feel safe enough to express themselves creatively.


Over the course of an academic year, we held 32 sessions for one hour on a weekly basis. The young people created an immersive imaginary world which they developed collectively and named it Pumpkin-ville. It consisted of 17 imaginary characters each with jobs, varying levels of popularity, status, health and intricate relationships with each other. Using ‘Persona cards’ as a starting point for inspiration, the group turned Pumpkin-ville into an extensive card game, loosely based on the game Top Trumps. 



Throughout weeks of designing, laminating, cutting, sticking, creating and assembling the game, the young people developed communication skills and began sharing their own experiences outside of the therapy space. We utilised a technique often used in Dramatherapy called ‘projection’ where a client projects aspects of themselves onto an external object to externalize theirinternal world. Using this process, the young people were able to safely distance themselves from personal and sometimes painful experiences, by projecting them onto imaginary villagers. This indirect approach to sharing feelings and communicating verbally meant the group could talk about what was going on in their lives or how they identified with a particular character in the game. The group members developed a huge amount of trust between them and Pumpkin-ville provided a collective anchor for them all. They could embrace their unique views, differing backgrounds, cultures, lived experiences at home, whilst relishing in their shared creativity. This seemed to provide them with hope and confidence in how they valued and perceived themselves.



As we brought the group to an end, the culmination of therapy was to finally play the epic card game and to enjoy the live experience of what they’d created together. It encompassed months of creativity and shared experiences, ending the therapeutic work with an energy of joy, accomplishment and pride.  


The support I received as a trainee throughout this process was nurturing, collaborative and refreshing. Tangled Feet provided me with external training to build my practical skills. I received regular support from my placement manager to aid my personal development and support with clinical work. Multiple members of the team actively guided me. As Dramatherapists, we are working in silo so this network of support was invaluable while training.


BADth Conference


With the permission from our 5 Pumpkin-ville creators, Kelly and I were invited to share Pumpkin-ville with the wider network of Dramatherapists in an immersive workshop at the annual BADth (British Association of Dramatherapists) conference in September 2023. We took 40 creative arts therapists on an immersive journey into Pumpkin-ville, wading through rivers, dodging the flying bats and jumping through sinking sand to arrive at the Pumpkin-ville gallery. We presented the aims for the group, their process, the logistics, as well as the therapeutic process. On display were the artistic creations of the villagers for participants to view. Splitting them into smaller groups, we sent them off each with a deck of Pumpkin-ville cards and gave them the space and opportunity to play the game themselves. It was a magical moment seeing so many adults giggling, making strange noises at each other (that was one of the rules!) and enjoying the game. We took photos and made a short video to take back to the young people to share the experience with them. 



Moving into the working world


After completing my placement, I was offered a job with Tangled Feet as a part-time Dramatherapist working across two Pupil Referral Units in London. It’s an honour to support young people, who are often in very precarious situations, to discover the own inner resources, be playful, give space for their pain, and recognise their worth. It is a privilege to be alongside them in their journeys and to be part of a caring and diligent team of professionals. I appreciate the continuous support from the wider team with regular check-ins, supervision and a network of seriously creative humans, doing seriously good work.



read more Oct. 11th 2023

Access Riders

by Kat Joyce, Co-AD


As part of our ongoing deep-dive into how we can make our working conditions safer, better, more accessible for everyone, we’ve introduced access riders for everyone who works for us. We are still on the beginnings of a learning journey with this, but we thought it would be useful to share where we are up to so far.


Listen to the recording of this blog here


I’ll admit this has a personal element for me: in 2021 I was very ill and experienced a lot of time in hospital (I was diagnosed with and treated for aggressive lymphoma). Although my cancer is in remission and (fingers crossed) I won’t need any more treatment, my illness/treatment has had ramifications for me, physically and mentally, and in terms of the impact on my family, that mean I’ll always have to make some adjustments in my life and work. It threw me into sudden menopause, which has had a whole other bunch of consequences. I had to face quite a lot of barriers, challenges and adjustments both during my treatment when I was in and out of hospital, and on my return to work. As a longer-term thing, I also have a hearing impairment and need to use hearing aids in some settings.

Consequently I’ve done a fair bit of thinking about what it feels like having to ask others to make adjustments for you. How can I use my privilege (as a salaried leader of an organisation) and the understanding I gained through being disabled by my illness/treatment, to advocate for better, more inclusive processes? How do we make sure that the thinking and conversations that happened during COVID around access are not lost as the industry gets back into gear? How do you best design conversations that open the door for people to be honest about their needs, that don’t make people feel inconvenient or even ashamed because of the adjustments that they ask for? 

I spent quite a lot of time while I was ill and recovering percolating thoughts about access riders and how they can be part of creating better working conditions, and came back to work very motivated to implement some new ideas. 


WHY an access rider? 

Access riders aren’t just for people who identify as having a disability. All of us, in one way or another, mask things about ourselves in order to ‘fit in’ to work environments which are inherently designed to white, male, heteronormative, ableist standards. Many of us carry invisible privilege on different levels and a lot of the time it’s hard to fully understand the barriers that stand in other people’s ways until you’ve experienced them yourself. I was shocked, during my illness, by my own internalised ableism which suddenly became apparent to me. How could I possibly be useful, productive, fun to be around, included - when I had to ask so many adjustments of everybody all the time?


In an industry like theatre, which has historically been very competitive and very cut-throat, we’ve been marinated in a culture where people will hide everything from children to medical conditions in the name of getting and holding a job – a situation that’s only begun to change slowly inside the last decade or two (PIPA  - Parents/carers In The Performing Arts has enabled great strides since it was established in 2015). In lots of ways, we are all very used to minimising our differences in order to not be the source of friction at work. But this takes and uses huge amounts of effort. 


It can cause people a lot of anxiety thinking about how they bring up their needs and ask for any adjustments to be made. We apologise in advance, and worry we won’t be employed again We are scared of being seen as unreasonable, demanding, fragile or inconvenient….

Going on the front foot as the employer, and asking people the question ‘what adjustments do you need in order to do your best work?’  - and making it clear that you as an organisation are open to hearing the answers – sets in motion some really profound changes. 


Coming from the mindset that we all have very different bodies, brains and life circumstances and that we all sometimes need to ask for adaptations in order to do our best work, we’ve approached the design of our access rider to be intentionally very ‘broad spectrum’.


We’ve designed the rider so that it asks everyone joining a project to think about the many areas that they – and their colleagues - might need adjustments. Using a series of prompts and examples, we lay out sections asking people to think about everything from neuro-diversity, sensory and mobility adjustments to caring responsibilities, effects of menstruation/menopause, religious practices, phobias and allergies. Everyone fills in an access rider – which helps us to build a culture where everyone is asked to spend a bit of time considering their own and others’ diverse needs: if that section doesn’t apply to you, it might well apply to one of your colleagues. 


The rider was designed and then trialled with two production teams last summer, who offered up feedback about filling it in and areas that weren’t covered. We’ve taken feedback on board and this year launched the access riders across all our projects. We are continuing to ask for feedback and expect to adjust the process further but currently this is how it’s working:


How it works: 

If you coming on board to work with us, you’ll be sent the access rider (either before or at the contracting stage). You can either fill it in yourself or spend some time considering the prompts. We’ll then arrange a zoom call with our General Manager, Aly, to talk face-to-face about the access rider and anything that it threw up for you. It’s made clear that anything you’d like to bring to our attention will be held confidentially by the project leads (usually Artistic Directors) unless you’d like to share it with the wider team. 


As we get deeper into the logistics of planning the project, Aly and the Artistic Directors will bear all the things that came up in access riders in mind, and try to make sure that as far as possible, we are making the adjustments that people need. We’ll do our best to balance out the needs of the team. 


Having set a culture of voicing our needs and differences allows us to openly address our intersectionality in rehearsal process. It means the door is (hopefully) open for someone to admit that something is challenging or to ask for a different approach, with the expectation of having their needs heard, held and considered. 


We won’t always be able to cover everything - we might be limited by external factors and time frames; peoples’ needs and preferences might not always align – but doing the access riders gives us a wealth of important information to help us plan things well.  For example, if we are booking accommodation, or a rehearsal space, we can look at the available options and know that one will be the better choice in terms of making that particular group of artists more comfortable. If we are designing a rehearsal schedule, we can adjust the start and end of the day, and the times we have breaks, according to how people work best, and other priorities in their lives. We can think about the ways we communicate with individuals and teams, and send info in a range of formats (emails, voicenotes, face to face) according to preferences. Sometimes the answer to making a working process easier for people is imagination and creative thinking, and not just doing things the same way because that’s how we’ve always done them. 


Sometimes the answer to removing barriers is £££. A lot of the adjustments we make are possible because we have the privilege of core funding from ACE. We are no longer having to always make work in the cheapest, fastest way possible, which inevitably means cutting corners and leaving peoples’ needs unmet (which is always, fundamentally, going to end in discriminatory practice that favours those who are able to be the most flexible and robust in un-ideal working conditions).

We also have a line in our annual overarching budgets (outside of individual project budgets) which is the ‘inclusivity budget’ *(thanks to X for that idea). This means that when the answer to removing a barrier to someone’s inclusion in a project or process is ‘spend some money on it/give someone some paid time to solve that’ we can put our hands in our metaphorical pockets and remove an obstacle or two. 


We are still working in a culture and an industry which has lots of structural problems and discriminatory processes, and where many people are excluded from even thinking about trying to make a career in the arts. The challenges we all face as we move towards fairer, more inclusive work practices are really significant. Access riders are a step in the right direction: by starting on this journey we hope to make people feel like they are working in a room and a process where their needs have been properly born in mind. We hope it will help us to continue to raise our organisational awareness of where people in our workforce are facing obstacles. This is even more important on processes like ‘Deep Adaptation’, where we know we’ll be working with people who have experience of big life adjustments like illness, trauma and/or grief. It won’t always be possible to get everything right, but as a company we aim to work with people over long periods of time. The plan is that access riders remain on file and can be updated/refreshed for each new period of work, and that we’ll know ahead of time what range of needs we’ll be considering, and can design, plan and cost our projects accordingly. 


We are more than happy to share our access rider, which in turn has been influenced by other peoples, and by a range of conversations and resources that happened as part of the Freelance Task Force during Covid. You can find the current draft here. If you use it, please credit Tangled Feet. 



read more Aug. 21st 2023

Belongings: Process and Performance

by Catherine Love. 


This article by Catherine Love explores the creation process of theatre show Belongings (for 7-11 year olds) by Tangled Feet and Rowan Tree Dramatherapy through interviews with cast, creative team and participants. Total estimated reading time: 30mins.




The process is explored through analysis of the four main visual metaphors in the show: mirrorsclothesshadows and parachute.



  • It all starts with play: the co-creation process
  • Timeline of the making process
  • Mirrors
  • Clothes
  • Shadows
  • Parachute
  • Long-term enquiry


Read the full article here 

read more Jun. 14th 2023

Not the what but the how – Creating the right environment for the best work to flourish?

by Nathan Curry



Exploring new processes/procedures trialled on Belongings for ensuring well-being and creating a healthy rehearsal room culture. 


Listen to the recording of this blog post here


As an ensemble of artists, working together across many projects and years and often alongside young people and community volunteers, trust and well-being is central to what we do. However, without deliberate acts and interventions it’s quite easy for well-being to become side-lined and the unrelenting pressure of show creation, the event deadline and funding timelines to take over.

In the past year we have been refocusing our creative model to make sure we place as much importance on how we work with each other in rehearsal (the relationships, the space for vulnerability and anxiety, the communication) as we spend on the content of what we are making. 


This journey is part of a longer-term change and development for Tangled Feet to analyse where we’ve made mistakes in the past (which we have) and explore ways of making improvements that centre care, effective communication and allow space for vulnerability and anxiety within safe support structures.  We’ve recently adopted sending Access Riders before all productions and established a Freelance Steering Group (more on those in later blogs) alongside establishing rehearsal processes to create heathier working environments.


It is often expected that Directors will lead rehearsal room culture but that feat of facilitation, safeguarding, pastoral care and reading the room is a complex job. Is it impossible for a Director to be aware of everyone’s needs (including their own), manage the content creation and timetable as well as negotiating external rehearsal room pressures. Director’s may get training in acting technique and scene changes (which is what they often get praised or criticised for) but do they ever get any training to look after a team well, to plan effectively and to structure a process so that the environment enables everyone to do their best work? 


Designing an Alliance


Thanks to some fantastic training on Designing an Alliance from Support Squad and Creating Inclusive Environments from Tonic Theatre in 2022 on our latest production Belongings we trialled a process whereby the creative team designed an alliance on how we would work through rehearsals:


 On Day 1 of rehearsals we spent the first morning exploring two questions:

-How do we want the process to feel?

-If there is disagreement, anxiety or concerns – how do we deal with it?


The opening of a rehearsal process in this way allowed us to explore how we would work together not necessarily what we were working on. In answer to the first question there were responses one would imagine such as “supportive” and “playful” but also words that led to healthy discussions on what we needed from each other “transparent” “safe” “with clear communication”.


The second question gave us a platform to explore how we’d all cope when things were more difficult. Phrases such as “acceptance not defensiveness”, “compassionate curiosity” “space” allowed us to talk about what we all needed to support each other when the path got rocky. But other things came up too that were almost instructions for how we may approach these moments as a group:


“you never know what’s happening in people’s lives”

“come back to why we are here”

“set aside a time to deal with these things”

“are all our needs being met?”



By opening this discussion we are accepting that creative processes are embedded with challenges – differing viewpoints, creative difference, pressure, anxiety, the challenge to create the ‘new’. In scripted work it is often said the text is the arbitrator on any disagreement but on devised work there often isn’t a text everyone is responding to – it may be themes, a set of relationships and lived experience. 


Devising new work is hard and there are many moments where you all feel lost and alone. At these points anxiety can quickly seep in and the atmosphere can change. When we had difficult moments on Belongingswe were able to look back at our lists and talk about how we wanted to deal with these moments together – to be curious in others ideas, to allow some space to process and to accept not defend. 


Criticism, defensiveness & silence are three elements that can lead to toxic atmospheres. However rehearsal processes are full of constructive criticism, defence of ideas and passion for new ones and silence as people process, reflect and plan.  Toxicity can appear when it was no ones intention. By designing an alliance we are asking the production teams to take responsibility of this atmosphere and culture. As it said on the wall in the Belongings rehearsal room “We are all responsible for creating an inclusive working environment”. There are hierarchies at play in a rehearsal room and especially in founder led theatre companies – there is a risk that this hierarchy creates the working dynamic in the room. By making it everyone’s responsibility that power can be shared and challenged and more equitable spaces exist. 


Dramatherapy and Reflective Practice


Tangled Feet are very proud to run a large Dramatherapy offer, employing 9 Dramatherapists across 6 educational sites. We also run a Mindfulness Programme in Primary and Secondary Schools. We have often looked for ways to connect our Dramatherapy work with our productions and the creation of our Therapeutic Theatre pieces for children (Need A Little HelpButterflies and Belongings) have connected those we were working with through therapy with our creative acts. 


During the rehearsal phase of Belongings we started to bring in Dramatherapy style exercises and a considered reflective process alongside content creation. The TF Lead Dramatherapist Alex Ramsden was embedded in all stages of Belongings creation process but in the final phase we gave time to specific reflective exercises to:

-name what our hopes and fears for the work were

-to discuss how we’d cope when the work became triggering

-to explore support structures

-to temperature check where our own resilience levels were

-to take part in simple meditation and regulation exercises


Alex was then on call for the entire rehearsal and tour period for anyone to continue these exercises or conversations one to one. Not many people needed more support but all mentioned knowing that the structure was in place was enough to alleviate most anxiety. 


By allowing space for a reflective practice within the rehearsal process I think the performances gained a new level of depth through trust and acceptance. This was one piece of feedback we got from a Dramatherapist in the audience of the show:


“Seeing Belongings twice, each time I have felt connected with the wonderful characterisation of the actors in role. The honesty and vulnerability the actors have enabled in their role telling conveys a truthful at times sorrowful, at times celebratory sense of the lived experience. “


Change takes time. Creating space in the theatre making processes for Designed Alliances and a Reflective Practice need proper planning and consideration but we can feel the difference its making. The sense of trust, shared responsibility and a safe way to have complex conversations is clear. Our Access Riders are already alerting us ahead of time to people needs to allow them to make their best work and the Freelance Steering Group will embed long term change, accountability and devolution of power. These things need time, space and funding allocating to them and we are committed to them in these ways. We’ll continue to share our learnings, do get in touch if you want to know more. 


read more Nov. 4th 2022

Arts Council England - National Portfolio News

Tangled Feet are pleased of the opportunity to remain part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio, and to be able to deliver the Let's Create strategy – a set of aims that tie very closely with our own organisational values and our creative outputs over the last decade. Nearly all of the work that Tangled Feet creates – which is often experienced at no cost to the audience – is dependant to some extent on public subsidy. We are relieved to have three years of stability to build upon, at a time that we recognise for our whole sector is one of unprecedented difficulty.


Our work over the next three years will explore the idea of recovery, with a continued shift towards sustainable creative practice, both environmentally and in terms of artists' and audience's welfare. From our base in Luton, and working nationally, we'll continue to centre the mental health and creative autonomy of young people, creating and touring work that evolves from and dovetails with our Dramatherapy and participation work. We will continue to create spaces in which we can bring a diverse range of people together to envisage routes towards alternative, more positive futures.


We will continue to centre and support freelancers, and to advocate for their needs in the sector.


Our hearts are very heavy today for the numerous brilliant companies and organisations who went through what was an incredibly difficult and soul-sucking application process and that haven't been funded, or who are having to cope with very significant funding cuts, and who will be feeling huge amounts of uncertainty at this time.

read more Aug. 17th 2022

Belongings – Rowan Tree Dramatherapy

by Bryony Brooker & Justine Staley


An idea


First of all, I want to say I love my job and after working with Tangled Feet, I love my job with rejuvenated enthusiasm, a bag full of shiny tools, an insurmountable pride in our young co-creator team, and new possibilities of what we can bring to our work.


Just as a bit of background, Justine and I are directors of Rowan Tree Dramatherapy. Founded in 2013 as a Community Interest Company, we provide a Dramatherapy Service across Kent where we are committed and dedicated to working within the community to ensure Dramatherapy is both accessible and useful. We work extensively with young people, many of whom who do not live with their birth parents. Thanks to Children in Need, we have been able to offer fully funded group therapy each year for the past seven years to Children in Care. With each group, we create a space together that offers the potential to experience a sense of belonging that they have agency over moulding, shaping, and making their own. They have a voice, they are heard, and their feelings and emotions are validated. However, outside the therapy room, all too often these young people have had no choice and no voice, in what has happened in their past, and sometimes in their present, we always strive to support agency and wondered how could their voices become tangible?


Together, we tentatively considered how a piece of therapeutic theatre could be created and how this might look. We knew we did not have the knowledge or skill set to create the vision we had (it had to be spot on) and knew that it would take a theatre company that had great integrity and experience to pull this idea off. 




After meeting Nathan and assured by the warmth and sincerity of his approach to creating, we invited young people in care who we had worked with in the past, to become a new group of Co-Creators advising the development of the show. Our initial workshop with Nathan and Alex facilitating addressed any worries I had that the process would be too challenging for all of us; the evidence was in the bravery and generosity of our young Co-Creators sharing of fear, hope, and nightmares inspired by images during one exercise. Their creative capacity of course we knew, but their readiness to give a stage to the experience of being in foster care was breath taking. The workshop gave the clear message that the show had to hold hope. They found sooner than Justine and I could have imagined, a sense of purpose and belonging behind their lanyards of Co-Creator. Nathan’s clarity of their role within the making process was fundamental to this; they had an understanding that their individual lived stories were integral to the development of the show, but that these would inform and be held in essence, not presented as an account, in the final show. The creative process began with a shared curiosity which boded well. 


The next stage of the Research and Development was to work with performers. Justine and I could not believe we got to watch the process begin. The organic creative process was awesome. Playfulness, fun, and spirit balanced with intent, abandonment, and loneliness. I found my notebook slipping and just wanting to absorb the phenomenon of the performing arts, working with the raw material, and translating this somehow into the impressionable visual. Physicality was key to exploring relationships and use of space. Mesmerising watching the light tinged with the shadow. Chairs, mirrors, doors, clothes were props used with clowning distraction where both Justine and I recognised strategies familiar to the young people. 


Covid. Pause.


We needed funding to give this show the gravitas it deserved. This was hard to find with funding avenues pausing or withdrawing due to the uncertain times. Covid also meant we could not safely meet as a group. Despite Justine and I maintaining contact periodically with our Co-Creators and Nathan, to offer each other reassurance of our commitment to the work ongoing, it was important we reformed with a workshop, so our words were put into action, particularly poignant for Children in Care where adults saying one thing is not enough. One of the group members had moved away and was no longer able to attend. They were missed for their energy, insight and creativity and held in mind throughout the rest of the project. 


Covid had brought change for us all, yet the remaining Co-Creators were ready with apparent greater individual purpose and sense of responsibility. We also invited two new Co-Creators to join the group; we were so pleased they did. 


Justine and I applied for funding from the Arts Council England. This was a learning minefield of an undertaking. We have applied numerous times for funding since our fruition as a company, but this was something else. We were challenged to think about how we were looking to bring Dramatherapy back to its roots. We had to apply for a piece of theatre not for a therapeutic intervention; we were pushed to really take this vision and write what we should, could, and would offer (in collaboration with Tangled Feet). This challenge was fully supported by Tangled Feet where their advice and guidance was invaluable, particularly when blurry and tired with application drafting, neither Justine or I could see clearly. 


A show is created


The production team expanded. A Zoom meeting brought Justine and I back to the very real theatre making process of turning the skeletal bones of our initial intention, with the Co-Creators offering muscles and flesh, and now the team to connect with sinew and skin. I went quiet, noticing myself a little out of depth and lost as to where I could be useful to this final stage of rehearsals. 


There was also some stuckness in the process for us all. The responsibility we all held with creating a show that had its roots in the experiences of children and young people in care brought about hesitancy and debilitating carefulness as we navigated a narrative and decided on who the characters were and how they related to each other.  What was the show saying, could we say ‘Mum’, was it set in a residential home or foster home, and did it need to be named? At this point our Co-Creators took us firmly by the hand and told us what they wanted to see. I was struck with how invested we had all become; I noticed, for example, one of the performers had the same Bruce Perry book I was reading tucked under her arm as she went off to get a train. I realised that the development of the show had evolved as each person in the team offered perspective and insight and expertise whether that be professional or moments of personal, everyone holding the young people at the centre of things. The balance of illuminating authentically the experiences of these young people yet with universal themes for all audience members to relate or find within the show. For Justine and me, we were aware of not being able to hold the material within a contained therapeutic space or workshop and had to allow the transition and trust the work. With a growing confidence in the process for our Co- Creators, their voices became bold and tangible, we saw that they connected with each other and different members of the team as they took on an interest in the music, the set, the characters, and direction. Their willingness to speak out was testament to Nathan and the entire team for the safe and playful space they created.

The set is recycled and transient mirroring the challenging experiences of the young people and making the show accessible to more venues such as school and community spaces. The props are meaningful and purposeful adding height to the very meaning of the show. But behind all this are the dedication of Nathan and Alex to keeping the Co-Creators at the very centre of their thinking. Their names are discreetly placed about the set, their voices can be heard in moments, even the characters’ names were their decision. Our time together developing the piece of theatre ended with two sharings; one at The Hat Factory Luton and one at The Colyer Fergusson Hall, Gulbenkian Theatre Canterbury. These sharings were trialling ideas to an audience of young people, some of whom were in care, therapists, carers and professionals surrounding the support of young people. Friendship, support of others, leaving home, the challenge of uncertainty, fear of being alone… are just some of the aspects that resonated for the audiences. The second sharing included our Co-Creators as audience members to give their feedback on the show and a brief workshop afterwards evaluating their experience.  One Co-Creator commented about what they wanted from the experience was ‘to create something younger people can relate to.’ The audience feedback was full of evidence that the show had done just that. 


Justine and I felt, alongside our Co-Creators, such pride and celebration. For us the use of a therapeutic theatre process to bring our Dramatherapy work to a powerful, evocative show was incredible both professionally and as a personal experience. The young people we have and do work with are threaded into the show; their voices are indeed tangible; ‘Belongings’ as a completed show will tour in March 2023. An actual show!

read more Oct. 20th 2021

Cellular-level R and D

By Kat Joyce.


In late July/August, I undertook a very intensive few weeks of solo research and development: working title – having and recovering from a stem cell transplant. My 'residency' took place in hospital – I was in hospital and mostly in isolation for the best part of a month. 


A bit of background: I've been a bit quiet this year, and a bit less involved in Tangled Feet productions, because at the end of February I was diagnosed with lymphoma, which is a type of blood cancer. I had become more and more unwell through the January/February lockdown with a load of weird and increasingly alarming symptoms, and  eventually had a scary emergency hospital admission where an xray and a CT scan picked up a large mass which was squashing my heart and lungs. I was diagnosed as Primary Mediastinal B Cell Lymphoma. Somewhat ironically the b-cells in my blood – which are a part of my immune system – had gone rogue and were effectively trying to kill me. It goes without saying that being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer at 41 is completely terrifying and causes your world to shift on its axis.

The initial plan was six cycles of intensive chemotherapy, each cycle requiring a 5 or 6 day hospital stay attached to chemotherapy drips 24 hrs a day. Initially, the doctors were optimistic that the chemo would knock it on the head and I would be cured. I was adamant that I wanted to continue working and being creative (what's the point of life if you aren't staying creative?) and I was managing to continue my core role with Tangled Feet in between hospital stays, working on Devolution Evolution, and hoping to be returning to normal this summer. Unfortunately, just before my 5th chemotherapy cycle it became apparent that my cancer was growing back and had become 'refractory'. This meant a change onto an even stronger treatment for my last two cycles, and then pending a clear PET scan (which fortunately I got) the prospect of a stem cell treatment to try to keep me in remission. This was a huge mental blow, just when I could see some light at the end of the tunnel with the original line of treatment, as I was now staring a really hard and unpleasant treatment and much longer and more fragile recovery in the face. 


A stem cell transplant (sometimes called a bone marrow transplant) involves giving you a really toxic dose of chemo (one of the chemicals in the chemo is basically mustard gas) which annihilates your damaged bone marrow and immune system. You are then given  some stem cells back as a starter-for-10 to rebuild all the cells that have just been killed (otherwise you wouldn't recover from the chemo). The chemo knocks all your blood counts to zero meaning you are intensely susceptible to infection and have to spend the next few weeks in a sterile isolation while you wait for the new stem cells to make their way to your bone marrow and start producing new blood cells. It's about as fun as it sounds: 0/10, would not recommend. The medics warn you that the recovery is going to be really unpleasant – the cellular damage from the chemo is horrific and completely screws your digestive system as well as your blood and bone marrow. I won't go into specifics but they aren't mucking about – it was f***ing horrible. 


I had an autologous transplant, using my own stem cells (rather than a donor) which were harvested and then frozen a few weeks before my transplant. I drew some comfort from the fact that I essentially produced the medicine which would enable me to recover from the mustard-gas chemo. 


Cancer is a major blow to your identity. It transported me instantly from being someone who was largely in control of my world, making things happen as a theatremaker, co-leading a company, an active parent and partner, cracking on with a house renovation and building a new life in a new part of the UK (we had – very luckily – just moved to Cornwall to be near my parents)... to someone who has suddenly become a patient, who has to submit to a huge number of invasive, scary and sometimes painful medical procedures, someone who quickly doesn't recognise their own body (bald and with PICC/Hickmann lines coming out of it) who has to completely rearrange life around endless medical appointments and rely totally on others for help. I haven't been able to do basic stuff for myself, let alone look after my own children, for large parts of this year, which has been enormously hard. I thought I'd be supporting my parents. Turns out they've been looking after me.



Throughout, though, I've clung on like a limpet to the idea that being ill doesn't stop you being an artist – even if you are too tired and wrung out from the mental and physical effects of coping with cancer to 'produce' much art. (I did manage throughout my treatment to create an 'alter-ego' called Lynne Fomo, which I shared, along with some writing, drawing and my Pinterest inspiration board, with the Devo Evo cohort – you can see some of that on the Devolution Evolution site.) Being confronted with a month-long hospital stay for my stem cell procedure, I decided that I was going to doggedly treat it as really hardcore R and D. This might sound ridiculous but it kept one very important part of me alive even as another part of me was being killed off. 


I don't know what the output will be from my intensive R and D yet. I did (optimistically) take in my laptop, notebooks and all my sketching materials but was so unwell that I have nothing to 'show' from my hospital 'residency' except for a collection of very intense notes and voicenotes in my phone documenting some of the darkest, hardest parts. Physical recovery from a stem cell transplant is 3-6 months before you feel remotely normal and up to a year to regain your stamina – if you get it all back. Two months on, I'm only just strong enough to spend the whole day out of bed. 


My mind, however, has not stopped whirring. I don't want to (and can't) speak for all cancer patients but for me there has been a huge shift of perspective that occurs when the floor drops away with a diagnosis. Not being able to take for granted your health, your autonomy or even, at some points, staying alive, makes your head spin. Having to pitch all your faith suddenly on the wonders of medical science, placing your trust in extraordinarily poisonous drugs administered by extraordinarily caring nurses completely changes your relationship with the world and the way you think about yourself and others. Being that fragile and vulnerable is incredibly humbling but also allowed me to witness and comprehend things that I never had from a position of strength and independence. The sterile landscape of the isolation room in the cancer ward is at the same time utterly claustrophobic and somewhere your mind roams on an incredible journey like some desperate protagonist in a Cormac McCarthy novel. 


There are things I've seen and experienced and learned – on a cellular level – that I would never have accessed if I'd been fit and well and able-bodied enough to keep up with the intensive pace that the mainstream theatre industry still (disappointingly) seems to overwhelmingly demand. The ruthless capitalist equation of measuring worth through hours of work undertaken and product generated makes no space for the incredibly important things that can be gleaned at more fragile or turbulent times of life, or periods of time where life goes at a different pace. Recovery, downtime and recuperation are viewed by a society brought up on capitalism (and deeply internalised) as unproductive states – and despite fighting this logic internally, there's still an ingrained layer of me that feels 'invalid' in both senses of the term. 


This theme of 'recovery' is one which Tangled Feet are interested in exploring over the next couple of years.  I'm (obviously) not the only one recovering – as a population we are reeling from Covid (and long Covid), from grief, from the emotional, mental and psychological toll the last couple of years has wrought on us all. What can we learn from this enforced down-time, and the new perspectives that this trauma has inflicted on us? Can we lean in to the restorative, generative, imaginative possibilities of the 'recovery' (and perhaps in the process uncouple some of the harmful notions about productivity which capitalism forces on us?)


Throughout it all I've felt enormously grateful to be part of an ensemble and an artistic community (through Devo Evo) who have supported me and my family in all the important ways. Because it was built out of friendship, Tangled Feet has an unshakeable ethic of care, and always held a culture of belief in people's innate creativity through all the tricky phases in life – whether they are being 'productive' or not. We are artists still when we are ill, when we are pregnant or immersed in the work of looking after small children, when we are grieving, when we are taking a rest for our mental health – even when we step away from the industry and decide not to participate in it. Perhaps: we are artists not by virtue of what we produce but by virtue of the curiosity we hold about the world and the way we explore and live in it.


I don't have an amazing insightful conclusion to this blog. I'm still processing everything. There's no 'My Amazing Wisdom From My Battle With Cancer'. I'm out the other side of my stem cell transplant R and D but my trajectory with cancer doesn't have an end point. I am awaiting a PET scan which will hopefully be clear. And after that I'll be awaiting the next scan, and the next...R and D is ongoing. 


But it felt important to me to share my R and D and the journey that I've been on over the last eight or nine months to date, so here we are. 


You can view Kat's R&D process called "Kat's cellular-level R and D: the landscape of Lynne Fomo" HERE

read more Oct. 15th 2021

Devolution Evolution: To A Cumulus.

by Lydia Harper


My journey with Devolution Evolution started in August 2020. I was due to have hip surgery and needed to isolate ahead of going into hospital, so I was at my grandmother’s flat whilst she was staying out of busy busy London. I used this time as my creative period for the first phase of the project - I made a short dance film inspired by ‘CATALYST’. My second project was directing a show to be performed in a Shop Window in Luton – ‘TO A CUMULUS’ I also collaborated as an outside eye on Gemma Creasey’s Shop Window show which was silly amounts of fun. 


Devolution Evolution came at a really interesting time for me – I was slowly making quite a huge transition from performer to director and beginning to be in a muddle as to what my next steps should be. Tangled Feet gave me the opportunity to explore who I am as a director and what my solo artistic voice sounds like!



The process / My process / What’s a process? / How do I process?


I am very outcome driven so a big part of my journey with Devolution Evolution was embracing the process and enjoying it without simply focusing on the product! On cold wintery walks with cups of tea in hand, my DevoEvo buddy Fiona Watson and I spoke about the difficulty of trusting your artistic instinct and being able to keep faith in your ideas. During these walks I realised that the type of work I want to make is guided by a connection with the audience and an emotional interaction between them and the performers. And that is less scary instinct to trust – finding something that feels like you in the form of theatre…it feels like you are on the right track. 


A process. It seems like something all artists should know and have and hold intrinsic to the work they make. But I was stepping into unchartered waters! I knew I wanted to create / direct something of my own but that was as far as I got!


For phase 1 and my short film I started with a tiny idea and found it through movement – dancing out how I felt and letting the emotions guide my physicality. Then I looked at everything I had done with an editing eye and began to expand the project’s narrative to include other performers and their space, realising the narrative through the physicality and building that journey. 


For phase 2 and ‘TO A CUMULUS’, my starting point was ‘head in the clouds’ and the sort of whimsy and playful imagination that might come from someone described like that. Allowing myself an unlimited imagination and a focus on feel good / silly / zany / chaos that makes someone stop and think, then walk away grinning from ear to ear, allowed me to write the show, find the most fantastic team of performers and get into a rehearsal room and play! We played games, we played silly walks, we drew pictures, we danced, we ate donuts and we found the fun! Then my job as a director is easy – organise the fun so someone watching has just as much of a good time as the performers onstage. 


I think my process involves finding fun, joy and happiness and capturing that essence for onstage! 


Inside Outside


With my film I wanted to try and capture what it means to be trapped and the freedom that can come when you first step away from that. The initial idea came from a deterioration of mental health and how sometimes it feels like you are watching yourself from the outside crumble, and unable to make a change that would save you. 


I wanted to suggest this visually, so I explored using a framing devise of shooting through windows or doorframes. An external perspective of yourself or a loved one that you witness. This fed perfectly into working and performing in a shop window – creating theatre in a space not designed for theatre, welcoming anyone and everyone into a world through a window. A sneak peek into someone else’s world!


Collective Joy


The audience responses to my film were clear - it was a universal piece that could be applied for everyone’s circumstance. Writer’s block, living through lockdown, living with depression, anything! This was what I wanted to hold onto whilst working on phase 2 - a feeling of unity and a feeling of collective understanding and shared emotional response.  


There were two main responses – the first was a connection with the isolation and a powerful sense of being seen in your worst moment, the entrapment and the isolation became a signifier of unity and the uplifting knowledge that you weren’t alone throughout it – we all felt the same withering desperation. The second response was a much more positive and warm and was the feeling of dancing in the rain after a heatwave, stepping outside and feeling the sun warming your face, finally hugging a loved one. A much-needed release that invites joy without any consequence or toll. That is the feeling that I wanted to continue working with – collective joy. 



What an experience! Rehearsing in a public forum with constant spectators, seeing Becky-Dee’s design come to life around us, sharing the space with two amazing shows and getting to be completely immersed in an audience that were completely infatuated whilst simultaneously bewildered about what was going on. 


I was very excited about creating ‘incidental theatre’. Theatre that is available for everyone and can be enjoyed in passing, for 2 minutes or for the duration of the piece. The world is hurting, and people need moments of joy. 


I wanted to include as many people in my project as possible, so I chose limited rehearsal time and maximum cast size. We had 1 afternoon in London creating characters and building a physical language for them. Then we had an afternoon in The Shop putting it all together and building the show, before the performances began the next day. 


‘To A Cumulus’ was chaotic, it was silly and it was funky. We had cardboard car chases, bubble machines, floating cloud girls, a chocolate eating detective, a rascal in gold boots and a ball fight. The title came about from my love of silly puns and exploring scientific cloud names and my driving force of wanting to bring everyone together in a collective, accumulating them if you will……..To Accumulate = To A Cumulus. 


All of my actors gave so much and made it a magical experience

  • Emily Orme the most magical human with her head in the clouds

  • Charlie Caplan a ridiculous rascal constantly causing bewilderment

  • Ankit Giri a hopeless romantic floating on the best level of imagination

  • Carla Garret the funniest clown and who sprinkles magic everywhere.


Personal Highlights

  • A tiny human in a tutu spontaneously joining in with the performance. 

  • Heard in the audience “Why is heaven being performed?”

  • Seeing the Devolution Family, many of whom I have only ever met via Zoom, congregate in and around Luton, filling the town with friendly faces who have been supporting me and my artistic journey for the past year. 

read more Sep. 3rd 2021

Devolution Evolution: Impossible Monsters

by Fiona Watson


Devolution Evolution beginnings. On July 17 2020 mid first pandemic lock-down, I received a wonderful surprise email from Kat Joyce co-artistic director inviting me to join an R&D project called Devolution/Evolution. Tangled Feet proposed to support associate artists with whom they had strong working relationships "with some time, space and resources to develop some new creative ideas’’. 

The initial support involved 6 paid days, a mentor meeting with one of the co-artistic directors Kat Joyce or Nathan Curry, the potential to set up training workshops and Zoom meetings with the other Devo/Evo creatives, to introduce each other and share work. The timing of this email was significant as we were by now several dismal months into Covid lockdown and as theatre maker I had no idea when I would work again. So to be reminded that I was a theatre maker with strong working relationships was pretty special! 


To quote Kat’s first brief again;


"’The theme we are asking artists to respond to is 'the catalyst'. What's the straw the breaks the camel's back and instigates a change?’’and ‘’ It could be a tiny thing or a huge one. Interpret as you wish.’’

Impossible Monsters 

As a collaborative artist I am used to working with groups of people, so I decided to take the opportunity to work by myself, starting from nothing.


I gave myself a hard time getting started on the project, all about not being ‘good enough’ and just being stuck, my inner-critic is exceptionally loud.


I started reading Augusto Boal’s book The Rainbow of Desire, in which he explains a whole method of working that he adapted from his original Forum Theatre, and talks about ‘the cop in the head’.


His work is about oppression and how to use theatre to confront the oppressor and that in more affluent societies the oppressor is ‘the cop in the head’ i.e. us (via the internalised information from our educators, our carers and the society we live in) oppressing ourselves. Job done, we are ‘locked down’ in our own heads! That is why I called the piece ‘Impossible Monsters’, the voices that we self-censor feel impossible to realise.


However, most of Boal’s work required a group to explore. 


At this point I had my first meeting with my mentor, Kat Joyce, who was hugely encouraging of my tentative description of ‘Impossible Monsters’ and suggested that I could try guided writing as a way of exploring the voices. I came away feeling super-charged that someone else thought that my idea was good enough to explore and had suggested a method that was very enticing to me to do so.


Making ideas concrete – the trick of art


Tangled Feet set up a writing workshop at the request of several of us Devo/Evo creatives. We worked with the wonderful writer Dawn Walton who helped us with a wealth of ideas and techniques to create character, distance and dramatic action.


I thought about us all trapped in our houses and how the little windows of the Zoom process allowed us all a sort of escape to see other ‘worlds’.


Researching ideas, I looked at lots of pictures and found information about ‘bouffon’ characters, interesting because, in my mind at least, those were especially potent characters for escaping ‘lock-down in the head’.


I found pictures and old film from 20/30s Berlin cabaret, Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits and pictures and videos of Pina Bausch’s work that appealed to me a being uncompromising, often exaggerated, and also full of humour.


I also plundered conversations I had or overheard about the lockdown situation and re-wrote them with heavy editing, created environments and costumes for them (I am always fascinated in Zoom meetings by the glimpses we get of the others’ worlds) and found that I had produced the initial series of 4 characters for the first iteration of ‘Impossible Monsters’ who were all filmed, struggling in their Zoom boxes. I animated a title sequence and then relied heavily on my skilful partner Kamal to show me how to edit and put it all, in the manner of a slightly dodgy Zoom meeting…with interference.


I had no idea whether it would be something that could be watched by others with any interest or not. We were collectively invited to 2 evenings of Zoom sharings, no pressure to produce anything, we could just talk through our process and ideas. These evenings were an utterly joyful experience. The delight of watching/listening to others’ ideas and wildly different paths to creative expression was a completely uplifting and joyful and nourishing experience. And I shared my videos, with great trepidation, feeling exposed and a bit of a charlatan at the same time. Would anyone be remotely interested in my rambling, weird characters that in my most wobbly moments I thought might just be personal therapy.


Oh joy! People watched them, found them funny, touching, vulnerable … amazing feedback from the kind and generous cohort of other Devo/Evo creatives. We all felt lifted on each other’s contributions. Out of this and another evenings’ sharing came the collective idea that we could curate a mini-festival in which to share the work that had been made. Work as varied a poetry, videos, extravagantly beautiful hand-made speakers, pod-casts, sculpture and sound installations. 


I added further videos, including one with a cartoon fish in a bowl who perfectly expressed my sense of déjà vu as the whole country staggered from wave after wave of coronavirus and lockdown. I kept on thinking how I could develop ‘Impossible Monsters’ and the most convincing answer I came up with for myself was ‘make more videos’, which was made possible by a further 6 days paid freedom to create.


During this time I also lost 2 friends, not directly to coronavirus, but to isolation in care homes way before their times. Through working on another Impossible Monster, I was able to express my anger at the assumptions made by our careless government that vulnerable people would die and that those deaths as ‘collateral damage’ were acceptable somehow, in another video.


The whole series of character ‘Zoom’ windows that I eventually made were edited with Kamal’s  help and given subtitles to be shown as part of the Devolution/Evolution festival in Luton, centred at the Hat Works and the Hat Factory that had come into being from our initial collective wish.


Devolution/Evolution in Luton

This 3 day event at the end of July 2021 was utterly brilliant. A magnificent production team pulled together an exhibition at the Hat Works, a theatre workshop at the Hat Factory and performance space by taking over an empty shop in the Luton Mall. All creatives who felt they wanted to show their work to a wider audience were given a space or timetabled over the 3 days.


Impossible Monsters was shown on a screen in the Hat Works where folk could sit on a comfy sofa with headphones and watch, along with 2 other videos. 


Petal workshop with Susy Hingley

I was lucky enough to participate in a day long workshop on a scene from the play ‘Petal’ by my Tangled Feet colleague Susy Hingley. Along with 3 other brilliant performers from the collective (Gemma Creasey, Tunji Falana and Johnny Ong) we found ourselves in the lovely studio theatre at the Hat Factory working on alternative physical ways of expressing cyber-bullying. Brain-storming, getting out the felt pens and large pieces of paper again, playing around with rope, and swivelling office chairs was celebratory, we’d survived over a year of lockdown and made it back into the rehearsal room! We had the best day doing what we love to do, making theatre, playing with ideas and in the evening showed back what we had come up with to a small but appreciative audience!

Devolution/Evolution- the full-fat experience

Two days later, I came back to Luton for my full audience experience of our first Devolution/Evolution artists’ collective event and had the time of my life. I felt very vulnerable sharing Impossible Monsters with another audience. My worst fears were that no-one would be interested in watching it, so I lurked around in the Hat Works café, watching the watchers, though my cover was almost immediately blown by other collective members as we madly greeted each other in the ‘real’, sometimes for the first time in a couple of years. 


Greetings went on all day with others and their families, new tiny kids who had arrived over the previous locked down months, grown-a-foot taller kids and Devo/Evo contributors who I had only met on Zoom, all much taller than I imagined them. 


Wandering around the Hat Works visitors were able to revel in a glorious gallery of rooms showing all the different and beautiful things created. I skipped off to the Mall to watch the delightful, funny, clever 10 minute shows put on in the ‘Shop Front’, along with a large number of equally delighted members of the Luton public, who seemd more than happy to pause on a busy shopping day to be entertained by dance and acrobatics and clowning.


I can’t really convey the ‘feels’ of my experience of being part of the Devo/Evo collective after such a drought of opportunity, to be back with loved and admired colleagues doing and sharing our art. We are an Art Collective and this goes on. As I write this, more folk have been included in the group and are now working on ideas that we will share with each other on Zoom in September. Artists have used this as a springboard for applications for funding projects or developing creative practice. ‘Impossible Monsters’ will become something else, which may involve live performance and dancing. The beat goes on….and on.


Thank you everyone.

read more Aug. 18th 2021

Murmurations: It's better outdoors

By Nathan Curry


During the pandemic many people sought solace and freedom in the Great Outdoors. Initially, due to the government rule allowing only 1 hour of outdoor time each day, people made sure they claimed their slot, but as the pandemic settled into the long haul people socialised, worked and played outdoors – everything became an outdoor event. As this happened many people started to see their local environments in new ways and noticed nature in the urban cracks for the first time and the incredible vistas and wildlife (sometimes more visible and closer than ever) in the countryside. There was something reassuring, in a constantly changing news cycle, that the skies, woods and fields seemed timeless.


Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire run by the National Trust and Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk run by the RPSB are two places that saw this increased footfall and new visitors across the pandemic period. In September Tangled Feet are collaborating with playwright Steve Waters to create Murmurations; a site-specific piece of theatre that will take place at the two Reserves. The piece is part of a wider project Steve is embarking on asking what is the relationship with playwrighting, nature and the climate emergency? Mumurations reflects on our relationship with nature during the pandemic; how it’s given us solace and how does it need protecting from us?


One of the debates of the play is how we should look at these nature Reserves and where they sit (or where we’ve allowed them to sit) in our landscape. Steve discusses whether these Reserves should be ‘wild’ or cultivated by humans, whether there should be fixed habitats or with a wild approach to let things rip. He unpicks the changing climate which is forcing species into new habitats; should humans even be allowed into these protected environments anymore or have we already damaged the environment enough? Alongside this is a deeper debate on how we re-calibrate the role of nature in our lives – is it separate or connected to our value systems, our economic thinking, and our well-being?

We’ve developed Murmurations throughout the pandemic period. The first site visit was in July 2020 as the country started ‘opening up’ for the first (it turns out the first of a few) times. The creative teams walked the Wicken and Strumpshaw boardwalks and learnt about these incredible, protected, nurtured pieces of land. It was hot, teaming with wildlife and each place packed with birders, walkers, and families. We continued into the winter months spending time testing ideas in an icy December – less families this time but still many nature lovers camped out over thermoses. At that point the country was about to enter its third lockdown and it had become clear how important being outdoors was for us all. Making theatre outdoors is something Tangled Feet has done for the past 10+ years – we have witnessed first-hand the power of being on the street, in the park and in the fields. Art outdoors is nourishing for the artistic soul, accessible to everyone and allows artists to try brave and bold experiments in form, place, and content.

For me there is a connection between these threads of art and the natural world. Why is it that during lockdown we sought out both of these sorts of experiences – walks and exercise in nature, a new appreciation of skies, birds and insects buzzing in open spaces and alongside zoom dance classes, painted rainbows on windows and creative online socialising. What is it that we need from art and nature? Both give us time to think – there is inspiration from a fantastic view or stirring dramatic speech. Both ask us to bring ourselves into the picture offering a frame for our imagination. Both allow ritualistic moments of catharsis – the sun setting, the ice melting, the dance crescendo or the dramatic departure. And both are bigger than us and contain complicated creativity embedded inside them; the design of flowers, feathers and roots alongside choreography, language and design. 

Experiencing theatre and nature together is brilliantly exciting as the natural world is a stunning backdrop (the best set design out there). The narrative must align itself to the rhythms of nature, the form cannot fight against the weather - if its windy its windy, if it’s raining it’s raining, if the sun sets the lights are turned down. There is something honest about making theatre outdoors – there is no fakery of design, no chance to focus attention via spotlights and everyone is under the same canopy – there is nowhere to hide. The marriage of form, theme and place creates a deep connection. When an actor talks of the earth, of landscapes changing, of the sounds of wildlife it all surrounds you– the work shimmers and shines under the watchful eye of its inspiration. 


And the debates on access in art and nature dance around each other with linking themes. Should art be housed in protected palaces or on the streets for everyone? Should art adapt to how the world is changing and what we need art to be or is it a historical form focused on preservation? What is the intrinsic value of art on our everyday lives and how do we quantify that? 

Murmurations will take place during the RSPB’s Big Green Week (18-26 Sept)- a national week celebrating action on climate change. Making Murmurations and creating the work in natural surroundings brings the effects of climate change into sharp focus. As the characters talk of a sinking landscape and rising waterline, we look across the watery land and see it. As they bring our attention to a small scrap of land home to a rare, endangered insect we know this land is irreplaceable. When we are asked to witness the yo-yoing weather we feel the heat, rain, and wind on the same day. Perhaps theatre work in the natural environment can help elevate he stories of the changing climate and give voice to the voiceless nature we have taken for granted for too long?

Nathan Curry, Director



Friday 17th September: Shows at 11am, 2pm, 5pm

Saturday 18th September: Shows at 11am, 2pm, 5pm

Sunday 19th September: Shows at 11am, 2pm, 5pm

Meeting point: At entrance to The Reserve

Buy tickets here



Friday 24th September: Shows at 11am, 2pm, 5pm

Saturday 25th September: Shows at 11am, 2pm, 5pm

Sunday 26th September: Shows at 11am, 2pm, 5pm

Meeting point: At entrance to The Reserve 

Buy tickets here


read more Jan. 13th 2021

Into Power (Devolution Evolution)

By Al Orange


As an artist living and working across two countries, when I saw the likely outcome of the Coronavirus pandemic starting to spread across the world, I knew I had to make a decision about where I was going to be as travel restrictions set in. It was an easy choice and I returned to Spain to be with my family.  But that meant leaving behind my other family, my family of Tangled Feet and other artists across the UK.  So when I was invited to be part of Devolution Evolution I jumped at the chance.


Listen to the audio of this blog post here

Unlike some other members of the group who relished the opportunity to make solo work for the first time, I knew instinctively that I wanted my piece to be collaborative.  I wanted to explore the ways in which we could connect and make work together in that moment, and I was thankful for the chance to work with part of the incredible pool of talent that had been gathered for the project.


The provocation was ‘The Catalyst’, and that led me to explore the moment when we are driven to walk away, to say no, and how the act of refusal can be a moment of incredible power, a life changing instant that can have long lasting consequences. My starting point was a piece of music I had written which featured  samples from procession music I had recorded here on the streets of Seville.  Inspired by a moment of catalyst from my own personal history, I reached out to our DevoEvo network for collaborators and asked them to film 30-45 seconds of movement interpreting the theme however they wished.



I wanted to make a piece that connected my past as a physical performer, my present as a lighting and video designer and what is very much my future as a visual artist.  My aim was to take us away from the world of confinement and Zoom meetings and create beautiful abstract worlds for our bodies to inhabit.  To create something powerful and yet enchanting, a beautiful antidote to the dark times we found ourselves in.


Whilst I flirted with the idea of using the time to research new technologies, as soon as the pieces of film started to come in, I knew my focus had to be on the people, on their pain, their rage, their stories, and their power, my own included.  I set out to create worlds that I hoped would reflect each performers strength within their struggle, and yet connect all our stories stories together to create a coherent whole.  I devised and performed my own choreography for the first time in years, accepting the limitations that age and injury had handed me and finding new ways to circumvent them.  


One of my challenges was trying to work with the different types of video I was sent. Some were filmed with good cameras and proper green screen, others were filmed on phones in people’s bedrooms and back gardens.  The trick was to see each challenge as an opportunity to explore, and I genuinely surprised myself with some of the results.  The final cut came together much more easily than I expected.  It seems that the sense of unity and connection I was craving had already been written into the DNA of our collective unconscious.


Although I was already happy with my own work on the piece, my greatest sense of achievement came from the reactions of my fellow collaborators on seeing the finished video, and how they felt represented.  Here at Tangled Feet we are ultimately storytellers, and the greatest service we can do for someone is to tell their story well, to find that kinship, that humanity that we need more than ever right now.  I feel so inspired by the Devolution Evolution project, and I definitely want to develop this practice further, to get the work seen not only online but in galleries, libraries and in public space alongside other works from the project, and finally, in defiance of all the shit I’ve been through, to be reborn into power, and just to dance again.


Watch Al's 'Into Power' video from the first phase of R&D sharings on the Devolution Evolution Playlist on our YouTube channel. You can view some more examples of those who chose to share their ideas via video on there too:



To find out more about Devolution Evolution head over to the Production page and keep an eye on our Socials. Follow Al on Instagram & Facebook


read more Dec. 4th 2020

A post Pandemic Reset? Outdoor work, venues, futures, ways of working...

By Nathan Curry


In August and September I took part in Culture Reset - a programme to actively explore what change we wanted to see in the arts and culture sector post pandemic. 

The 4 week intensive featured weekly workshops alongside listening, reading and writing tasks. We were challenged to find a question to explore and use that question to fuel our research and conversations (my question explored the relationship between venues and outdoor theatre post pandemic and the role I could play)...

“The Portal” Arundhati Roy


Like many I was drawn to the the programme because I could see the opportunity for a change and that that change was well overdue. One of the launchpads for the programme was this quote from Arundhati Roy:


“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.“

The break with the past that Arundhati points to is the exact fissure that theatre makers often insert themselves into - its where the new futures can be imagined and performed as an act of collective community storytelling.


What role will theatre have during and after this pandemic? Will it even survive? if it does how can it be a space of healing, connection and change? How will we stage the stories that help imagine a new future?


“Audience in Portuguese is public” Culture Reset Participant


For me the call to take part in the programme was driven by the power of performance in public and social spaces - the way it can access new audiences, tell new stories and represent and challenge the world around us. Myself and everyone at the company I co-founded, Tangled Feet, have long been believers in the power of theatre in public space and as theatre buildings locked down the concept seems to have captured many imaginations. 


The basis of performing in public is (for me) about placing art within people’s everyday lives (changing the shape of their day) and not held behind a door in a sacred space where the rules can be baffling, the stage architecture asks the form to conform to a tradition and the ticket prices (can be) extortionate. As everyone retreated inside their houses and into nature we saw an explosion of creativity at home, creativity online and creativity outdoors and there was a sense of adventure and joy.  As Clare Doherty points out in this recent Stage article - this is the moment to reform theatre radically. Clare outlines beautifully the draw of the outdoors, the possibilities it holds and how fundamentally the form requires you to be relevant, locally engaged and resilient - surely the foundations of a theatre reform?


So what’s stopping us/stopped us? Is it that artists don’t understand the outdoor form? That it lacks financially viability (like many performing arts)? Or that buildings don’t know where to start?


“Your past recorded self” Faroq Chaudhry


There is much power in the status quo. One of the most inspiring parts of the Reset programme were the curated Podcasts.


Farooq Chaudhry spoke about the way we live in a way that allows us to play out our lives and choices as a recording of the previous day- that we repeat the same patterns, thoughts and behaviours learnt in the past. This is the baggage that Arundhati Roy talks of. How do we start our work post pandemic to question everything we thought was right or useful and start afresh?


In another podcast Wesley Enoch talks of the politics and power of organisations that take up space. The political power of spaces with more bricks, more audiences, more money and more media coverage dominates the messaging in the arts (and it quickly becomes an economic argument of the power of art to add to the economy and therefore, as the ACE Recovery Fund proves, also dominates the arts rescue packages). Meanwhile small, adaptable, artist led groups make work in the gaps, in communities and away from the mainstream - but without any political power or exposure.


“It is theatres that are hard to reach, that marginalise themselves” Chinonyerem Odimba


Part of my research led me to turn the exploration on its head and ask why auditoriums and stages have such power that channels money and creativity into stages not places?


There are, of course, a large number of intricacies and details here but my provocation is that if a stage is the way an arts organisation articulates who it is (and that this stage is programmed by 1 or 2 people and accessed by a small percentage of local constituents) then how is it a public space? Is it basically a private space? 


Coupled with this are the Business Models of most organisations with stages or spaces mean that they have to get ticket income and sell a huge number of seats to break even. The venue is literally held to ransom by this model - the shows HAVE to make money, the stage HAS to articulate its identity? A large dark space saying ‘Fill Me!” as opposed to a local population saying “Fill me!”


So what’s happened during lockdown, as stages have closed? Places have been forced to articulate their identity in a new way - through live streaming, social media, participation with participants at home and working outdoors. And by doing this they are reshaping who they are and who knows them - hopefully forever! Perhaps they could be inspired by these models from Belgium and Stockton which look like an attempt to make private spaces public ones.


(an interesting sub plot to the above is the shadow of Shakespeare. The theatre is dominated by a writing culture not a creation culture. Writers write domestic dramas, largely set inside rooms, in traditional play structures. Are playwrights writing plays set in railway stations, woods and town squares? Many outdoor theatre shows this summer have been Shakespeare in the park style events but this is only a tiny shift in organisation identity and audience make up. How can we encourage a creation culture not a presentation culture?)


“Structure calcify, structures limit” Jasmine Wahi


The other thing that the pandemic has shown is the challenge of large organisations to adapt, re-purpose their expertise and change to a new form of delivery. They are weighted down by their size, the scale of their operations and their identity so have lost the ability to respond fast, in the moment, to change.


In one of our participant sessions we discussed interdependence - the arts and culture sector is all connected (even it feels like the threads are fraying or non-existent at times) and we all need each other - we need each other to do well, to care for each other and to share space.


David from my Reset group used the metaphor of a forest to discuss the change needed in the arts - how there are large trees and small trees and how things grow around and between them. Sometimes you need to clear a part of the forest to help other things grow, to let in more light. Lucy expanded the metaphor to talk about how a forest needed tending to and attending to (caring for on an ongoing basis as well as reacting to emerging issues) . Some large trees, have deep roots, need much sun and water but also create their own eco system of life living alongside them. Meanwhile, young, smaller trees and new species grow, twist and adapt to find light and water..... but at some point they will need much more space to grow. In a storm some trees will fall but this creates opportunities for others to grow? How will tend to and attend to our forest? And what new things can happen when new species arrive...


“Change the platforms” John McGrath


As part of the Reset programme John McGrath spoke about changing the platforms by which we share performance. For me this spoke of changing the time of day of shows, the spaces they inhabit and the methods they communicate by.  What could happen if we broke the need for a 7.30pm start time? What would happen if we didn’t create a show but a space? If we didn’t rehearse but co-created? 


An example of this change of platform is Marcus Faustini’s work with The Agency in Brazil and since the UK who spoke of cultural organisations finding where inequality exists and inserting themselves with in. Also, this collection of work that looks at changing the timeline of how work is experienced - using duration and time to think about a sustainable practice. Do we need a new show every 6 weeks on a stage or 6 weeks of 6 shows spread across the community?


“Be more simple” Marcus Faustini 


Many times over the reset programme we were encouraged to do deliberate acts, that change is both an immediate action and long term shifting of perspective. So my deliberate act right now is inspired by the manifesto of NT Ghent which came out of organisation wide and city wide consultation but also came from a desire to deliberately change how they work. So here are my provocations for anyone making and sharing art:


Provocations for performance in public and social space:


1) Go to the territories: Perform one piece (or share your art) for free in a public/social space at least twice a year. one in mid summer, one in mid winter.


2) Get new allies: Each season galleries commission dancers, museums commission poets, theatres commission visual artists and libraries commission curators. 


3) Art in the workplace: Place artists within a local business. Ask the business to give space and artist to make work specifically for that location and that community.


4) Workplace in the community: Be in residence in a local community -move the office to the community centre, create training programmes, run open workshops, start debates, provoke change, build something and leave it there. 


5) Extend the runs: All performance/exhibitions run an extra week at end of ‘auditorium’ run and perform work without decor for extra week in local school, library, care home, pub or social space.


6) Mix it up: Swap the stage for the cafe and cafe for the stage at least once a year. Swap dressing rooms for bars and bookshops for workshops. 


7) Change the duration: At least once a year make work that can be experienced by cycling, by walking, by train or on the bus.


8) Change the time: At least once a year make work that is experienced late in the night, at school pick up time or during lunch.


9) Hangout: Create a new creative social space in your venue which sole purpose is hanging out - no sales allowed. 


10) Ask: Every January ask your public. What do expect from us this year? What do you need this year? Centre the need the following year to change audience into community. 


PS:An Artist/Practice Led approach postscript


In July myself and my co-director at Tangled Feet Kat Joyce, collaborated with Vicki Amedume of Upswing to set up a working group of organisations that are core funded by Arts Council England who are artist/practice and.or founder led, that have no building and have no fixed touring model. We are all slightly nomadic stepping in and out of venues, communities and performance contexts. 


Spending time in this monthly working group which now numbers 40+ organisations I feel that our approach has some positive routes for future ways of working in public and social spaces:


-We are idea led and have a diverse set of skills to deliver ideas- our form bends to meet new challenges and tell stories in new ways 

-We are inspired by places and people and ideas connect them and us together

-We bring people together and create communities for short and long periods

-We only work in partnership so collaboration is in the blood

-We are adaptable, flexible and change size and shape as projects begin

-We are often nomadic and connect across many local and international contexts, exchanging localisms

-We are innovators of new ways of shaping and sharing work

-Spaces have often been in short supply to collectives and independent orgs - we fit in the gaps and grow them

-We are constantly in residence in other places/spaces 


Nathan Curry


More interesting Reads/listens 


Blogs, articles, research and Podcasts from all Culture Reset Programme


Culture Plan B Podcasts


Leadership from Hero to Host - Margaret Wheatley with Debbie Frieze - an action plan to reshape leadership 


Civic Role of the arts Case Studies 


Battles Lines are Drawn - Kully Thiarai explores the divides that Covid could strengthen or break: “The pandemic is testing us all in many ways. How honest are we going to be?” 


Art for Social Change or Social Justice 


Art Workers must demand the impossible


A Freelancers Support Menu


read more Oct. 27th 2020


By Kat Joyce


The first phase of Devolution Evolution wrapped up at the end of September with three evenings of Zoom sharings of work-in-progress. All of the artists who'd taken part had a ten-minute slot to use as they wished – some shared finished films, some shared scripts that were read, songs were sung, some talked about their ideas, their processes and their challenges.


Listen to the audio of this blog post here

Although all the artists started with the same resources and the same jumping off point, where they went with it differed hugely, Themes emerged and converged: identity, BLM, inside/outside, grief, taking up space, isolation, journeys, barriers. Creative expression took all sorts of forms: podcasts, song, installation, balloon modelling, comedy sketches, buffonery, interactive technology, pyrotechnics, scripts, poetry, film, aerial work. We've borne witness to stories of wild swimming, journeys across middle England, brexit grief, black hair, police discrimination, dawn in deserted city streets, county lines. It was a wonderful immersion in collaged creativity: there was cross-country as well as cross-artform collaboration, with performers in England and Wales featuring in a film/animation produced in Spain.


It was a thrilling three evenings which felt to many of us like the closest we've felt to the communality of live theatre since March. On the last evening, we all celebrated by dancing in our separate rooms. No one could sleep.

The artists who took part had all worked with Tangled Feet previously, some of them many times, and in many different combinations. But a big part of the pleasure of the experience was getting a closer and more intimate appreciation of each other's artistic processes, instincts and interests, unbound from the endeavour of making a show together. We saw many elements of people's practice and lives that we've never seen before in a rehearsal room.


Many of us found working solo really hard, and the discipline of self-directed and open-ended creative project held as many challenges as freedoms. For performers particularly, a lot of your career normally involves responding to suggestion (or being told what to do!) rather than forging your own path, and it can be really hard to switch modes. Confronting those big old demons – is my idea any good? Maybe should do that DIY/tidy the house/answer those emails before I tackle this creative work.... Can I call myself an artist?


But it felt, now more than ever, like a good time to be strengthening that muscle, for people to be finding ways to hold the reins of their own practice and careers, with the mutual support of others undergoing the same exploration.


It was a welcome validation in a time when all artists are questioning their work, and how to fit into the restrictions of current society. On a personal level, it also brought me immense joy, and the sharings along with their sense of collective ambition were incredibly uplifting”


“(it gave me) space and time to think about my creative practice and where I am now, where I might be heading. It made me question my artistry, the industry, the work I'm making and why. It was really amazing and I feel my whole practice shift because of it.”


Quotes from participating artists of Devolution Evolution. September 2020

We all feel like Devolution Evolution wasn't finished. It was the first step in a bigger, longer experiment. All the artists find themselves in different places, with different next steps and different challenges to tackle, but it feels like the community that we've created together, as a support system for doing that, is vitally important. We are now looking into how Tangled Feet can find the resources to continue the support of this community of artists in a meaningful way.


Devolving responsibility has meant letting go, releasing control, and seeing where it takes you. The results have been thrilling. Where Tangled Feet is heading - into the new future we all face – it feels like our evolution is well under way. 

Find our more about Devolution Evolution in our production page and you can see some of the artists work on our YouTube channel & on our socials too.

read more Aug. 18th 2020

What is DEVOLUTION EVOLUTION and why are we doing it?

By Kat Joyce


We've been holding monthly 'TF Tea' zoom drop-ins for our broader family of creatives to touch base and keep in touch with us. This has been a useful space to share funding opportunities and to offer advice and support.

We are keenly aware that freelancers are feeling the pinch, with a summer full of cancelled projects and little income. There has been anger at some of the opportunities that have presented themselves, which have offered small commissions and fees but required an investment of time to pitch and apply. We've contributed to the Freelance Task Force and have been kept abreast of the developing conversations in that important forum.


As this short term limbo stretches on and on, we look to the future with increasing uncertainty about what the world will look like. We are on about the fifth version of our annual budget and about the tenth version of our planned programme. With the future shrouded in mist, we decided it felt like an urgent time to do some R and D. What kind of work will fit into the new landscape we find ourselves in? How can we, as an NPO with relative financial stability at this time, play a useful part in the way our industry is evolving and adapting at this time?



We decided that we'd reapportion some R and D budget to try making work in a new way – one that gave the largest amount of possible agency to the artists while still retaining some sort of connecting structure to cross-fertilise ideas. As we watch ingrained power structures around us being (rightly) challenged and in some cases dismantled, it felt like the right time also to interrogate our own creative power structures, and to try something different.


Although Tangled Feet work on a fairly democratic and collaborative way in the rehearsal room (certainly compared to much 'traditional' theatre) it is nearly always the case that we (the two TF Co-Artistic Directors) bring a creative team together for a show with a set of ideas and the boundaries of the investigation pretty clearly drawn, and our rehearsals and creative process are, ultimately, director-led. We wanted to see what happens when we 'devolve' creative responsibility at the outset of the project to individual artists. What new working practices might emerge? What new synergies created? What will we learn about how creative ideas can be nurtured and grown?


It's a big experiment and we might not get it right, but in the spirit of absolute transparency, this is the structure we've created (developed initially through discussion by the TF core team in our weekly team meetings):


  • we invited a diverse cohort of artists who've worked on Tangled Feet projects over the last few years to take part in the project. We made sure that the cohort of artists includes people of different disciplines, experience levels and backgrounds. Everyone working on the project will have worked with at least a handful of other creatives on the project. Some have worked on dozens of TF projects over a decade or more.

  • We offered them all a fee equivalent to six days at our normal flat rate for creative projects (£120/day)

  • We offered them a broad creative jumping-off point: (the catalyst, the straw that breaks the camel's back and instigates a change).

  • We convened everyone on a Zoom call, explained the plan and thrashed out some of the details together.

  • We invited them to think about working collaboratively or solo, to explore new ways of working, and to work in a way that felt fruitful and healthy at this difficult time.

  • We've planned an online sharing of scratch ideas for late September (with no prescription about what they should present or how, or in what form).

  • We've set everyone up on Slack so that they can cross fertilise their ideas and reach out for collaborators.

  • We've offered our support both technically and creatively over the next couple of months in whatever way the artists find useful.


Now everyone has started working, and it's phenomenally exciting to start to see things emerge. Some of our artists knew exactly what they wanted to pursue and how, and some are taking their time to evolve a response to the theme. Some of the artists have long and successful histories of self-driven practice, and some are normally collaborators and are experiencing something very new. Our artists are spread across the South-East, but also in Somerset, Liverpool, Weston Super Mare, in France, in Seville, and in a canal boat that's never in the same place for long.


We hope that the seeds we sow now will come to fruition over the next 5 years – in new relationships evolving, new ideas blossoming and opening up avenues of further creative investigation. But equally, if the commission keeps an artist feeling like an artist for a couple of months at this point in time, that's also a win as far as we are concerned.


Watch this space for more.


read more Jun. 12th 2020


An open letter to theatre and performance makers 


This is a letter to self-employed and freelance theatre and performance makers in the UK. To the actors, playwrights, directors, choreographers, stage managers, designers, stage crews and set-builders to name just a few. 


Alternative ways to view or hear the letter:


PDF Version

AUDIO Version


We really miss being with you during this period of lockdown. Making theatre and performance is a collaborative endeavour, so we are particularly affected by having to be apart from one another right now. We’re not able to come together, in the same space, to share the experience of a live performance. We’re not able to practise and enjoy our artform in its most basic form.


It’s now looking increasingly likely that won’t be possible for months to come, and we recognise that many freelancers face real uncertainty about if and how they will be able to continue to work in theatre. 70% of people who work in theatre and performance in the UK are freelance or self-employed, and it’s for this workforce, in all its diversity and complexity, that the impact of the current situation is most acute. 


During these past weeks we have had conversations with many of you to understand your needs and the ways you have been affected. We are writing to express our support for you, and to lay out some practical steps we are taking to improve the situation based on these conversations.


As well as exploring ways of producing work with freelancers during lockdown, and using this time to develop new projects with freelancers for the future, we are also are working together to coordinate our response to the government, to articulate clearly what we can offer and what we need. 


Most urgently, we are calling for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to be extended in line with furloughing, for all self-employed workers, and in the specific case of theatre and performance workers, until theatres are able to safely reopen. We also want to see criteria removed from the scheme which are stopping legitimate and much-needed claims. 


Some of you are already involved in these conversations. We welcome your voices and need to hear from more of you in the conversations to come. Your unique networks, skillsets, perspectives, and ideas are vital to the entire sector, and we need to work with you in our response to this crisis.


Each of the organisations who’ve signed this letter are committed to reaching out to their family of self-employed and freelance theatre makers; listening to how this is affecting your work and lives, and to your needs and ideas for the future. 


More than that, we want to facilitate the establishment of a national task force of self-employed theatre and performance makers. The purpose of the task force is to strengthen the influence of the self-employed theatre and performance community. It would create ongoing points of connection between freelancers and organisations, and amplify the voice of the self-employed in the conversations to come. To help establish the task force, each of the organisations signing this letter will support a freelancer to join the group, ensuring they are paid for their time.


We want to offer a message of hope and solidarity. Our well-practised ability to work together, to form connections, and build relationships will help us through this. One day, hopefully soon, we will all be able to meet together, as people have done for centuries, in a shared space, for a shared experience. In the meantime, we remain committed to working for you and with you towards a sustainable future for theatre and performance.






Access All Areas

Action For Children's Arts

Actors Touring Company

The Almeida Theatre


Barbican Theatre Plymouth

Battersea Arts Centre

Belarus Free Theatre

Belgrade Theatre

Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Boundless Theatre

Brighton Festival

Bristol Old Vic

Brixton House

The Bush Theatre


Chichester Festival Theatre

China Plate

Chinese Arts Now

Citz Glasgow

Clean Break

The Cockpit

Company of Others



Curatin Call Online

Curious Directive

Dance Base

Dance Umbrella

Derby Theatre

Diverse City


Donmar Warehouse

Eden Court Highlands

English Touring Theatre

Farnham Maltings


Frozen Light Theatre


Gate Theatre


Half of Cornwall





In Good Company

Jermyn Street Theatre

Jerwood Arts

Kiln Theatre

Knee High

Leeds Playhouse

Leicester Curve

Little Angel Theatre

Mercury Theatre

Miracle Theatre

National Dance Company Wales

The National Theatre

National Theatre of Scotland 

National Theatre Wales

National Youth Theatre of Great Britain

The New Wolsey Theatre

Northern Stage

Nottingham Playhouse

One Dance UK

Oxford PLayhouse

Paines Plough 

Pleasance Theatre

Polka Theatre

Ramps on the Moon

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Rose Theatre Kingston

Royal & Derngate

The Royal Court Theatre

The Royal Shakespeare Company

Rubicon Dance

Sadler's Wells

Separate Doors

Shakespeare's Globe

Sheffield Theatres

Smart Entertainment

Soho Theatre

Spare Tyre

Spin Arts

Stellar Quines

Stephen Joseph Theatre

Studio Wayne McGregor

Taking Flight Theatre

Talawa Theatre Company

Tangled Feet

Tara Arts

Theatre Centre

Theatre Peckham

Theatre Royal Plymouth

Theatre Royal Stratford East

Tiata Fahodzi

Unfolding Theatre

Unicorn theatre


Wales Millennium Centre

Wassail Theatre

Wise Children

The Yard

Yellow Earth


read more Jun. 7th 2020

BUTTERFLIES - The full show premiere on YouTube & Learning Resource Pack.

Premiering on our YouTube channel at 11am on Monday 8th June is the full length show Butterflies and Week 8 of The Mindfulness Project at Home.


Butterflies is the show which inspired The Mindfulness Project. Three friends embark on a big adventure, facing lots of obstacles which they overcome together. 


Watch it here:

Butterflies is a co-production with Half Moon Young Peoples Theatre.

More info here


Watch Week 8 of The Mindfulness Project at Home. It is Butterfly week. Where will your Butterfly take you?


Also, brand new this week is our Butterflies Resource pack 



The learning resource is a work book which can be enjoyed whilst watching the show or just stand alone as a Mindful activity to work through in your own time.


Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see the Mindfulness Project at Home sessions here

read more May. 20th 2020

Mental Health Awareness: Mindfulness & Yoga at Home

By Rachel Rookwood


Working on the original mindfulness project was incredibly special for me, being able to go into schools and share my love of yoga and mindfulness is such a great privilege. Combining it with the amazing Tangled Feet show “Butterflies” gave us a unique story to tell and a special way to communicate with the children. 


Unfortunately it is undeniable, we are facing a mental health crisis, with evidence it is becoming increasingly more prevalent in our young people with a reported 1 in 10 children suffering with a mental health disorder. Introducing them to yoga and mindfulness at a young age can give them the tools to work through this in a healthy and supported way. This is the crux of the mindfulness project. 



When the pandemic arrived and changed our way of life, we knew that the very children we are trying to reach through the mindfulness project would be the ones most affected by the lockdown. With schools being closed we decided to take the project online and provide this amazing resource for free through the Tangled Feet YouTube channel. The Mindfulness at Home Project was born.


The online episodes follow the same pattern as the original schools project with a new episode launching each week over a ten week period. Taking the key elements of the butterflies show we follow the journey of three friends. Together we travel on boats, scale mountains and explore caves carefully guiding the children’s imaginations to explore their emotions. Each episode introduces them to two new yoga postures, a new mindfulness tip as well as different ways to express what they are feeling.  

We hope this can start conversations with the people around them, as well as giving useful, memorable tools to help them deal with these explored emotions. We finish the episodes with mini meditations, inviting them to create their own little safe spaces of blankets, cushions and teddies. With all that is going on, everyone needs the opportunity to take some time out to rest their minds and restore.


To watch The Mindfulness Project at Home, head over to Tangled Feet's YouTube channel:


read more Apr. 24th 2020

The Mindfulness Project at Home

As a response to the current situation we all find ourselves in, last week Tangled Feet launched our Mindfulness Project at Home. The company's ethos and core values become ever more important during these times and we feel that, as a company, we should encourage a culture of nurture, support and creative flexibility to work around the challenges that we face together as a society. 

The project will deliver 10 online classes for primary school aged children (4-11) to engage with as part of their home learning. We have also released mini activities that you can find on our social platforms. We are hoping these classes can be a tool to help parents as they try to juggle the challenges of home schooling, your own work and home life, and as a parent of a 9 and 5 year old I know myself how difficult this is!


The programme is a development of Tangled Feet’s Mindfulness Project, launched in 2019 in schools and colleges across Luton.  We work with children at key transition years who have been identified by their school as finding the move to a new year group particularly difficult or that they are experiencing anxiety or low self-esteem


Funded by Luton Borough Council’s Art Fund, the pilot project ran for 8 months and is now in its second year and its adaptation to online is part of our Arts Council funded activity. Every time the we run the project we evaluate the impact it has had on our participants. The progress we have seen has been truly heart warming and the results have been extraordinary.


  • 83% reported that they now find it easier to make friends

  • 67% recorded a decrease in a feeling of anxiety about things and that feeling stopping them from joining in

  • 83% reported an improvement in their ability to tell other people how they’re feeling

  • 100% felt less anxious and were therefore able to concentrate more fully


“You have showed such attentiveness to group and individuals, working inclusively, although sensitively to the needs of some if they were keen to ‘watch’ initially rather than joining in. The Safeguarding Officer and Wellbeing TA who watched too fed back that the range of activities were excellent and they picked up some tips too, particularly the language you were using during your story activity. Warmth and encouragement but freedom to withdraw/retreat if needed – we loved it!” 

Fiona Byrne, Deputy Headteacher, Stopsley Primary School, Luton


We hope that The Mindfulness Project At Home will help children to explore and understand any feelings of anxiety that they may be experiencing during these times of Covid 19. Each week, myself and Rachel Rookwood, a specialised children’s yoga and mindfulness teacher and the founder of Adventure Yoga, will lead a session that uses storytelling, mindfulness exercises, yoga practice and drama to encourage children to investigate their creativity and develop strategies for coping with anxious thoughts. You can view the first session below and before this session make sure you have made a Paper Boat. It takes a couple of minutes. Find out how here:


The programme is designed to create time to uncover and express their thoughts and feelings. It provides opportunities for children to take time to understand that all our minds get a bit stuck sometimes and that everyone, children and adults alike, are finding these current times strange. We hope that children will learn techniques to manage stress and will develop their confidence and communication skills.


Warm wishes to you and your families,

Emily Eversden

Participation Director, Tangled Feet




For more information go to our Mindfulness page

read more Apr. 13th 2020

Co-Directors Residency in Iceland cut short by Covid-19: Finding new ways to work

On March 8th Tangled Feet Co-Directors Kat and Nathan flew to Iceland to take up a two week residency at the University of the Arts Reykjavik. At that stage, 1 month a go, there were 100 cases of Coronavirus in the UK, a rumour spreading that Italy would lock the northern region and a real sense of not knowing what we would return to.


There was a heightened tension at the airport – our first experience of gloved and distanced customer service teams, quiet security screening and much hand washing.

We flew on a beautifully clear day, and as the icy vistas came into view from the aeroplane window for the first time we felt a huge sense of awe. The idea of polar icecaps (and their melting) is often very abstract, but this whole landscape of ice stretching in every direction suddenly made the world feel both smaller and more epic

On arrival in Iceland it seemed they were one step ahead of the curve with extensive signage and alcohol wash across the airport and city and on our first day at the University an introduction to a new no handshaking policy and the first experience of the elbow shake.


We walked to the campus along the coast of Reykjavik in the snow and reflected on how much it felt like an outpost; a vibrant hub of civilisation clinging to the edge of a huge wilderness.

We were working with 29 students from three courses – Dance, Theatre Making and Acting. We planned to spend the first four days introducing and work-shopping the methodology by which Tangled Feet create work. We aimed to cover one major area each day over Week 1:

1)   Ensemble physicality and group identity

2)   Object manipulation and design-led improvisation

3)   Autobiographical storytelling

4)   Space and audience dynamics


On the Friday of Week 1 we would reflect on what parts of the workshop had inspired the students and their practice and spend Week 2 making, shaping and creating a performance to be shared on the final day.


Quite early in the first week we had to agree a Coronavirus sensitive method of working. The University had (quite rightly) given all students permission to stay home if they felt the slightest bit unwell, as well as leave early if necessary. We agreed with the group to have no physical contact unless everyone agreed (which they didn’t) and we also decided to let the growing pandemic also inspire our creativity.

Over the first few days we made some really interesting work that demonstrated the students strong physical, improvisational and storytelling skills. We were massively inspired by the boldness, humour and commitment of the students (and the wonderful facilities we had to work in together).


There was some fascinating material in the creation of physical work without connecting physically. Pushing the boundaries of how close people could work without touching (there was no social distancing then) as well as experimenting with people connecting from distance that gave us a glimpse of a physically divided world to come.


We started a visual diary on the wall mapping the ideas and questions we thought would help create a piece:

1)   Exercises, games and tasks to try

2)   Things to investigate further

3)   Questions of the work or ourselves

4)   Themes we’d like to investigate

5)   Things we are inspired by

Themes and ideas began to emerge each day that started to connect with us all – borders/barriers/isolation, physical lockdown, contagion, a post-pandemic world, love in a world of Corona, the things that make us unique, touching and no touching, the collective mindset…


As well as questions:

-How can a creative process work for different types of learning styles and people?

-How can these games become more performative?

-Why can’t we let everybody speak?

-Can I just dance?

-Will there be this much physical work each day?

-Will Coronavirus effect this Residency?


The final question was most telling. As we reached Wednesday the whispers began that the University would close and distance learning take over. The effect on the energy of the work was intriguing as what was once something powering towards a performance felt like the air slowly disappearing from a room.


On the Friday morning it was confirmed that that day would be the last day and the residency would find some other way to continue digitally the next week. We hastily created a final physical sharing asking the students to choose the last four days of work-shopping as a starting point and muse on the fact that this could be the last ever piece of theatre before the world changed forever.


The sharing was a collection of scenes thread together: a strange museum of silver emergency blankets, personal storytelling surrounding moments when people had felt most alive, movement that brought to mind contagion and pandemic, a duet of hazard suited dancers lying on the stairs and a space-woman puppet discovering a new landscape

At the start of Week 2 – after our early flights home had been hastily arranged - we sent this provocation:

“To complete our residency together we offer you the provocation: How can we collaborate creatively whilst isolated from one another? This is an urgent question, which the creative industries across the world are trying to answer, so it seems right that we focus our attention here. We can be international pioneers...

We could test the idea that our work can still ‘speak’ to each other even though we making individually, as we have connected creatively as a group through our preparatory work last week, through the listening, sharing, improvising and making that we did together. To this end, our proposal is that, inspired by the work we made together last week, we each individually create a 1 minute video/performance which we share by Friday.”


By Friday we had received 20 videos and they were an intriguing mix of solitary moments of reflection, creation and chaos.


The work included:

#1 - Immediate responses to Coronavirus life and the new focus on our hands and isolated thoughts

#2 - The snowy landscapes common in Iceland (but other worldly to us in the UK) mixed with acts of creativity and reflection

#3 - Very personal reflections on life inspired by the autobiographical workshop the previous week:

#4 - Acts of neighbourhood solidarity and entertainment (from a co-habiting isolators)

#5 - And perhaps post Pandemic strangeness…


What is the next creative phase for this little archive of material from a strange time? Each of our Icelandic collaborators will have their own answer, and perhaps from these experiments, some threads will grow into future ideas...

Since the point when our residency should have concluded  (the 20th March, which was the day the schools in England closed)  it feels like the world has undergone another monumental shift. From the first frantic negotiation of what separating ourselves and going into social isolation would feel like, we are now having to come to terms with it as a long-term reality. A few weeks later, we've settled into a new routine, the reality of this is beginning to bed in, and we are faced with a challenge of how to sustain ourselves in our own lonely little outposts? How do we sustain our relationships, our creativity, our industry, our connections to each other?


Tangled Feet's creative process is founded on physical connection. We are experts in bringing people together in the same room and forging a group identity, in quickly creating a sense of trust which enables discovery to happen. We did these things in our first few days in Iceland and created the beginnings of a beautiful and fruitful creative laboratory.


But we are unequipped travellers in this new world where so many of our skills are stripped away from us. How do you unfold that relationship of creative trust with a new collaborator when all you have is a Zoom meeting screen and a dodgy wifi connection? So much of what we 'bring to a room' is lost once we are just a face in the video-call sea of faces.  How can we vulnerable enough to create together when we are reduced to a (brave) face on a screen? How do you take care of others when you can't give them a hug, read their body language or place a reassuring hand on their knee?


The world of gigs and festivals and clubs and shows is shut, and the elation of a physical experience shared and the connection that it brings has suddenly disappeared. And as the casualties of COVID-19 mount up around us in our spheres, the savageness at this isolation becomes ever more profound. Us humans need to be close to each other. Touch, closeness, physical connection and togetherness is a fundamental part of how we come to terms with things, at the best of times and the worst of times.


Some Creatives right now will be driven to create. And others will be feeling completely stymied and unable to produce anything. Either is natural and right. Whatever our response, we should at least all feel alleviated of the pressure to make great art, right now.


It feels like we are sending smoke signals to each other, to let each other know that we are still here, for a time when we can come back together.


Kat and Nathan

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