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 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 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 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 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

read more Mar. 20th 2020

Tangled Feet's response to COVID 19

Like everyone working in the arts, charity and educational sectors we are coming to terms with the short term and long term effects that coronavirus is bringing about.

We are in a fortunate position to be an Arts Council NPO and have been hugely reassured by their support at this time. Before we were an NPO we were in the same boat as many of our friends and colleagues – freelancers and a project funded group surviving from month to month – so we know the fragility of that existence. 

The values in our Mission Statement (see end of this document) are even more important in this time of great uncertainty and anxiety, and we will be finding new ways of championing these values. 

We will do everything we can to support our colleagues and communities and share our resources and expertise.  We will also be an advocate and friend for you - so if you want to share your worries or have a chat get in touch. 


What can we offer right now?

Advice, support and a shoulder to lean on

- Please get in touch should you want to talk, share ideas, ask questions or use our expertise and experience at this time. Within our core team we have performing, directing, finance, contracting, social media, dramatherapy and participatory arts expertise and we’d be happy to chat at any time. 

If you’d like to read any of our funding bids, Business Plan or Policies get in touch.

We've put together an emergency policy to cover increased flexible- and family-friendly working practices and additional sick pay cover which will be necessary at this time. We've shared it with PIPA and are happy to share with others. 


Practical Resources

We have a LWB van that is insured for any driver over 25 with a clean license, and a storage/workshop/making space in Mile End (London). Could you make use of these over coming weeks and months? 


Online Mindfulness

We are working on getting our Mindfulness Programme for primary & secondary school ages online and sharing digital tools for anyone to practice Mindfulness in what will be an anxious period.



We have put in place measures to make sure that the young people we support through dramatherapy continue to be supported even when schools are shut. We are looking at what other resources our dramatherapy team could provide to support the mental health of young people at this time of intense pressure. 


Access to our shows 

We will put all of our shows we have full recordings of online and specifically try and get our shows for younger audiences circulated to those stuck at home. 

You can watch Butterflies and Need A Little Help 

We will be sharing our Resource Pack for Need A Little Help (designed for Primary Schools) for people to access at home.  

You can download that here


Luton-specific support

We are keen to hear from any artists and young people in Luton who need some support at this time and would like to chat about their challenges or concerns. We are looking at what bespoke support we can offer in Luton, and have connected with the other major arts and culture organisations in the town to join up our efforts effectively. 


Support for older people 

We know that older people may not be as well connected online and will be some of the worst affected by social isolation. We are urgently looking at ways to stay connected with older audiences and friends. As a starting point we will be calling all of the people we met making Half Life and offering them an friendly ear on the end of the phone if they would like a chat at any time.


Creative projects

We are restructuring our creative plan for the year in light of new circumstances, and looking at what creative projects we can bring forward or advance as R and D in the immediate term in order to provide much-needed work for freelancers. 

We hope we can help support and create a better future once this period is over and a future with a greater sense of shared power, collective responsibility and kindness. 


Love, Tangled Feet


Our Mission Statement: 


We believe that art has the power to transform lives.

We believe art succeeds most effectively when people are put before profit.

We believe art must be available and accessible to all.

We believe that collaborative creativity can achieve things that a single artist working alone cannot.

We believe in shared decision making, in equal creative stake, in fair and equal pay.

We believe in young people’s potential to change the world and their right to be seen as a significant part of that world

We believe that sharing stories and narratives in public spaces builds our empathetic connection with each other and brings us closer together.

We want to entertain, to challenge and to delight; to create lasting memories and to inspire other artistic journeys.

We are a dedicated ensemble and believe in long-term rehearsal and performance history. The company formed in 2003 as a group of like-minded artists and friends with a shared vision, and commitment to a collaborative, physical working methodology.


read more Nov. 13th 2019

The Mindfulness Intern - Charity

By Charity Muiruri  
I'm Charity and I am one of the two, selected, project interns for Tangled Feet's Mindfulness Project. What is Mindfulness? It's being aware of yourself and others (thoughts, feelings etc) at any time, in any space and understanding why and then how, we can manage these states. 

Throughout my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, I experienced different levels of intense stress or anxiety or hopelessness or sadness and sometimes a combination of them all. I wasn't aware of what I was experiencing therefore I didn't know who to ask, or how to ask, for help. That's why I was interested in being part of this project- I want to support younger people in their journey of well-being.
The Mindfulness Project has created a safe space for youth to learn how to communicate as well as express what they’re feeling. During circle time, Emily would ask the participants to share what they had been up to, during the week, in school or in the morning of that day. This encouraged them to reflect back on their experiences whilst processing the different perspectives in the room. In addition to that, when exploring Tangled Feet and Half Moon's co-production of, 'Butterflies', the participants could identify with the character's journeys and were able to assess how they might feel at different points in the story.
Through the practice of yoga, the Mindfulness Project explores the body as well as the mind. To some people, yoga can be seen as a daunting experience or even a boring one- especially because it requires more focus and physical strength.

Rachel would demonstrate a series of yoga poses that we would then encourage, and support, the participants to shape.

It was impressive how quickly the young people picked up and remembered the different poses- even if they didn't always remember the name. What was really sweet, was witnessing them help each-other when making the poses together.

It's evident that the young people leave each session being enriched with knowledge, skill and sometimes a keepsake that they created. My personal favourite is the storm jar ''storm rolls in, storm rolls out." Very simple to make- it's a jar filled with water and glitter, lots and lots of glitter which when you shake, it symbolically represents a storm. The purpose of this is to reassure people that when you're faced with difficulties in life, it's only temporary and like the glitter, it will eventually settle. 
The Mindfulness Project has been a wonderful experience that I hope will continue to reach and improve more lives.
Charity x

read more Oct. 22nd 2019

The Mindfulness Intern - Hannah

By Hannah Kelly


When I was asked to be an Intern for Tangled Feet’s Mindfulness Programme, I jumped at the opportunity. Through working with Next Generation Youth Theatre, I have seen how art can transform young people’s lives as their self-worth builds.

Anxiety is something I recognise in many children I have worked with in the past. A report from the Children’s Commissioner in 2017 found that there is an ‘epidemic of anxiety’ in young people. I believe the Mindfulness Programme came along at the right time.


KS1 children from Stopsley Primary School took part in the retelling of Tangled Feet’s brilliant show, ‘Butterflies’ over a period of 10 weeks. Led by Emily Eversden, we explored the butterflies you get in your tummy when faced with something scary or worrying. Alongside this, Rachel Rookwood introduced yoga techniques into the sessions. A sense of calm would often fall across the room (they could be very loud!) as they practised their yoga poses and focused on their breathing.


The children became braver as each session passed; it was touching to see their confidence grow over such a short amount of time. They began to openly share their feelings with the group. A few children were very shy in the beginning but by the end, they were all putting their hands up and getting involved.


My favourite week (and the messiest) was when the children each made a Storm Jar. They were told that whenever they felt a little wobbly and in need of some calm, they could shake the jar and watch the glitter fall. It warmed my heart when a little girl came in a few weeks later and said she kept it next to her bed.


The support they had for one another was undeniable and it became stronger each week. Whether it was helping someone up a rocky mountain they created, a hold of the hand or simply listening to one another, it was lovely to see. I felt proud and emotional in equal measure in the last session.


It had such a positive impact on the children, one that I hope they will carry with them. A focus on mindfulness in schools is something every young person deserves access to. It’s an opportunity for young people to connect with their emotions and become more empathetic towards others. In a world that seems more than a little scary at times, kindness and understanding will go a long way.


A massive thank you to Tangled Feet for this unforgettable experience. Tangled Feet are so full of heart and care and made me feel completely comfortable in my role as an Intern. I'm so excited to see what’s next for the programme!

read more May. 16th 2019

Mindfulness Project

By Rachel Rookwood


I was thrilled to be asked to take part in Tangled Feet’s pilot mindfulness project for KS1 children. Yoga for children and being able to offer it in schools is a passion of mine. I believe that we are facing a mental health crisis across all age groups and demographics. Anxiety and other mental health issues are becoming more and more prevalent in our young people with 1 in 10 children suffering with a mental health disorder.

Introducing yoga and mindfulness at a young age can give children the tools to express and work on their feelings of anxiety that we all face in a healthy and supported way. This can help them develop into healthy and well-adjusted adults, which is what we all hope for in children.

Tangled Feet have an amazing show called “Butterflies”, and with the project leader Emily Eversden we set to work on creating a 10 week project telling its story. With the addition of yoga poses and mindfulness exercises we wanted to create a fun and interactive project that would develop concentration and improve behaviour as well as giving us the opportunity to talk about anxiety and how to deal with it. Fourteen handpicked children were excused from normal lessons at Stopsley Primary to take part with us and our pilot scheme was off.


Focusing on a different part of the journey each week we travelled on boats, walked up mountains, explored caves and meadows making new friends and facing our fears along the way. Highlights included making glitter jars to mimic starry nights and flying butterflies around the room.

The progress we saw each week was heart-warming, with the children always excited to see us and opening up more each week telling us about their worries and how they were going to face them as well as seeing improvements in their behaviour and concentration.


Every class ended with a mini meditation, letting them snuggle up with blankets and eye pillows for maximum relaxation. This was always my favourite part of class – watching them relax, take a break and let their little minds settle. It was also where the difference was really seen with the children settling quicker and more calmly each week.


The feedback from the children and teachers has shown that the progress was taken out of the project and into the classroom which is everything we wanted for this project! I can’t wait for our second run.

read more Apr. 18th 2019

Half Life

By Sara Templeman


Life expectancy in the UK is 80 years old. Most of Tangled Feet’s core ensemble and founding members will be turning 40 soon. It’s made us think about what life is like as you approach your expected halfway mark. Also what was it like half a life ago, and half that time again? What will it be like in another 40 years?

In this intergenerational show we ask different age groups these life questions. What’s your world like? What do you care about? What’s important? What do you look forward to? What will life be like in 10, 20, 40 years time?!

Half a life ago, the founding members of Tangled Feet met at Middlesex University and embarked on a massive journey together. 10 individuals all met studying for a drama and theatre studies degree and formed the company. All of us are still involved in the company in some way. We run everything ourselves from general management, artistic direction, finance, social media and marketing, production, casting, participation, fundraising to drama-therapy projects. What is at the core of our company is the individuals who have always put in that little bit extra, harnessed new skills to evolve as an ensemble, to grow and expand. Who knew 20 years ago we would still be going?

At the core of this show is our methodology which we have been developing from the start of Tangled Feet. A shared and devised process which used to take a long time to create, mainly because back when we started we had no money to pay ourselves, so we would sacrifice our evenings and weekends to make the work. There were some benefits in working in this way as it gave the time for work to marinade, breathe and grow. However we pride ourselves now on being able to offer fair and equal pay for all our ensemble and collaborators including interns. Artists should not have to work for free. Unfortunately that still often seems to be the case.
Our shows now have a shorter R&D period and then a bulk of a few weeks of rehearsals and then it’s performance time. We wanted to see what it would be like to take our time again, if possible, developing a show as we used to, which features our founding members 20 years on. Some of us haven’t exercised our performance muscles for some time, some of us have appeared in nearly every single show! How do we still work together as a core? What’s changed? What remains the same? We have experienced all of our adult lives together both professionally and as friends. There have been marriages, births, divorce, death. Lots of life has happened. How does that affect how we create work and what will be the outcome? How are we all at our half life point?!
Over a whole year, we are developing Half Life in this original way, taking our time with short R&D periods. We are nearly half way through that process now and are collaborating with different age groups to help make the work which will premier in October 2019 at The Albany in Deptford. The performances will feature our core ensemble with chosen collaborators aged 10, aged 20, aged 40 and aged 80 to bring to life the experiences and stories of a cross generational cast. We can’t wait to see what we uncover.
For more information on Half Life, or to find out how you could get involved please visit Half Life will also be developed with other collaborators outside of London in 2020. Watch this space for further info.

read more Oct. 18th 2018

How Tangled Feet are tackling anxiety in children

A report from the Children’s Commissioner at the end of last year found that there is an ‘epidemic of anxiety’ in young people. The number of children seeing psychiatrists has risen by a third, with the highest increase – 31% in a year – seen in those aged 9 and under. It’s a shocking rise. (Thanks to Flossie Waite from Children’s Theatre Reviews for digging out the statistic).


It was this sort of news that prompted us to make Butterflies, a Co-Production with Half Moon, that used anxiety in children as a starting point for a show for 3-8 year olds. We first started making the show in 2017 and did some test performances at Half Moon. This year we have developed the show and it’s touring until Nov 24th.  Alongside the tour we have launched a Mindfulness programme to run in four schools in 2019.

The performance of Butterflies depicts a journey of three characters as they encounter various anxieties.  We developed ideas for the types of anxiety they would feel through research, development rehearsals and some workshop sessions with a group of young people who refuse to go to school due to extreme anxiety (part of our Dramatherapy programme in Croydon). We focused on anxieties that are often deep rooted in our hearts and minds (separation anxiety, the dark, loud noises, heights) alongside ones that are learnt or developed as we socialise and grow up (anxiety over failure, public perceptions of us, not knowing what might happen next).


For children all of these anxieties are keenly felt. Anyone attempting to get a young baby to sleep in their own room or be ok at the morning drop off knows how strong the anxiety over separation is felt (by both parties). We all have these and are often born with inbuilt triggers to make us worry in order to survive.  Even the very young have ‘butterflies’ We recently did a workshop for under 5’s who were seeing Butterflies the following week to discuss the feeling of ‘butterflies in your stomach’ or the fear over not knowing what will happen next and these are feelings that are strongly experienced at that age.


As we grow up and start to socialise and go to school the anxieties grow and become more complex. The worry over changing year groups or a whole new school, getting things wrong in class or in life and the perception of you by your peers and elders. There is an anxiety to trip you up everywhere.


In Butterflies and our Mindfulness programme we highlight that a small dose of anxiety is vital to help us get through the day unscathed (not run into a road, jump off a wall, to be ready for an exam) – it’s when the anxiety starts to take control – when it slips into the driving seat of our lives- that’s when its debilitating and can make you ill.  With the show and workshop programme we want to look at how we can live with or ride with small levels of anxiety and when there is a surge then friendships, creativity, talking and practical exercises can help.


Our school years require so many skills, in particular how we adapt, how we cope with change. Imagine in your adult working life having to change your boss, your work setting and your aims and targets every 12 months. Now apply this to when you were 5. Transition is difficult and for some children it can feel impossible. Through our discussions with teachers across all key stages and our own experiences in schools it had become clear that there are two particular years were the transition for students was a bigger jump. Year 1; where students move from the free flow play model of reception to more structured learning, and at the other end of the spectrum year 12; where the move from GCSE to A Level requires a more independent learning model.  Teachers have reported that at these transition points symptoms of anxiety were more prevalent and mental health, particularly at year 12, started to suffer in some students. A report released today from Action for Children finds that 1 in 3 teenagers are suffering from anxiety. This is something that absolutely needs addressing nationally and it seems that this is becoming more apparent to Ofsted.


“Good mental health is the foundation to young people achieving their aspirations. There have been changes to the Ofsted common inspection framework, and these are centered on emotional wellbeing.”  Innovating Minds. To be outstanding schools must enable students to be able to “make informed choices about healthy eating, fitness and their emotional and mental wellbeing”


Tangled Feet’s mindfulness project is being funded by the Luton Arts Fund supported by Luton Borough Council & Luton Culture. It is aiming to create a safe space where students can explore their feelings physically and verbally, work with them, talk about them and also learn specialist tools that they can utilise when they feel that panic building.  We are working with a mindfulness teacher to create a programme of bespoke sessions for each of the 4 schools involved in the pilot project. The objective is to give students the ability to take more control of their emotional wellbeing, achievement and happiness in school and beyond. 


When Butterflies opened at Half Moon theatre earlier this year it was reviewed by Flossie Waite at Children’s Theatre Reviews. She was extremely candid in her review and noted that her anxiety had been felt since childhood, continued today and the experience of watching Butterflies when younger could have been transformative:


“There’s so much to be anxious about as a young person now, from social media to the general instability that we’re all currently living through, but levels of anxiety seem to be rising alongside levels of awareness. As someone who has had anxiety for as long as I can remember – certainly from the age of the young audience sat around me, captivated by the show – seeing Butterflies 20 years ago would have been a truly transformative experience, though watching it now is powerful enough. Ultimately, however, this show is for everyone – from those who only occasionally feel a flutter in their tummy to people like me whose belly is basically a butterfly tent – speaking compassionately to those who suffer, and showing ways to be supportive for those who don’t.” (Flossie Waite


Although it was sad to read about Flossie’s battle with anxiety it affirmed the shows importance to start conversations in school, in friendship groups and in families. Our mindfulness programme will follow up that conversation with creative activities, discussions and mindfulness exercises.


If some of those children who are statistics of the Children’s Commissioner report or Action for Children Survey find themselves within the Mindfulness Programme in 2019 we hope we leave them with tools to help them in the future. We aim to expand the programme after the pilot year.


Nathan Curry (Co-Director) & Emily Eversden (Participation Director)


Butterflies tours until Nov 24th /productions/31-butterflies


The Mindfulness Programme runs in four Luton schools from Jan-May 2019 and was funded by Luton Council, Luton Culture, Arts Council England, University of Bedfordshire and Capital Regional 7




read more Jul. 19th 2018

6 Thoughts on Community Theatre/Working in schools

Tangled Feet have just returned from 9 days in Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria where we co-created a new piece of site-specific theatre with 5 local schools (150 young people) and the local community. It was a gruelling, fairly stressful and completely uplifting experience.

Since returning home I’ve been thinking about what it means to make work in and alongside a community and how powerful the effect can be when that community has less opportunity to access artistic experiences than others. I’ve also been thinking of where love fits into community theatre.

We set out to make a show that was created by the young performers (and one of their teachers) and whilst responding to and inspired by local realities, we hoped it would stretch everyone in terms of style and content.


The story was developed using the local Loki Stone (a carving of the Norse God of Chaos found nearby) as a starting point. The show started with the discovery of a large box, dug up from underneath the school playing field (local farmer Monty provided the large hole.) By opening the box the spirit of Loki was released and mayhem ensued. We imagined a world where Loki was messing with the elements; water, earth, wind and heat and turning the weather on its head (not hard to imagine recently). What followed was a site responsive, indoors and outdoors promenade performance with live music as we attempted to tame the weather and get Loki back under control.

Reflecting on the experience I wanted to share some thoughts:


1) “Heroes don’t always wear capes”

The arts are held up, celebrated and shared by key individuals in local communities and they are the ones that are sustaining creativity in young people. Tangled Feet were merely visitors to this community and the ambition, free labour and tenacity of Kate Lynch and Vicki Betram who run Kirkby Stephen Community Arts was the reason it happened. They were and are completely professional but did most of this gig unpaid – I wonder if funders, the local community and artists know their extraordinary value.


2) Co-create

It seems completely simple to a devising ensemble and probably to many theatre makers reading this but the simple act of giving up creative power and putting the authorship of the art into the hands local young people leads to some astounding results. Yes the dramaturgy may be patchy, the work under rehearsed and design only filtered through a few days of creative thinking but the outcomes on this project were of a different value (that word again). The students and community feel creatively powerful. One student will now start their own drama club in a local school with no drama provision, the school ‘jam’ band is keen to revive, the local amateur dramatic group has new younger performers, the drama teacher had intense CPD, the school witnessed problematic Year 7 boys become men, students from 5 schools bonded through creative thinking. But most importantly the students saw themselves as the artists - they made the creative decisions- they made the art, they were not pawns in the art.  Einstein said something like “If you teach a child merely knowledge they will create what they know. If you teach them creativity, they will create things no one has ever thought of.” I feel like this is something we all need reminding of.  


3) Work rurally

I loved being in Cumbria. The community and landscape are things of beauty but the rural communities have huge challenges accessing cultural experiences. Tangled Feet have recently worked in the most rural parts of Somerset and Cumbria. I have been struck during those experiences of how isolated young people can be from the arts unless they have a parent ‘to take them’. There is very basic (if any) public transport, a handful of venues if you can get to them and a circuit of under resourced rural touring shows or theatre in education shows that schools can hardly afford. What are we all doing about this or are we just going to continue to have larger playhouses and events and expect people to pitch up to us? I have often suggested that all regular funded arts organisations should make one piece of free to access outdoor art every year, I’ll now add to that list they should all work rurally (at their own expense) or in areas with little public transport infrastructure.


4) Work site specifically/outdoors in schools

Whilst the weather it not always going to be as kind as it has been this summer, going outside (especially with young people) to make art changes the rules with incredible results. Everything becomes more democratic, limitless and the dynamic between collaborators is re-imagined. The walls of a building where art may be hung, the rows of chairs facing a stage and narratives set in rooms are all blown out of the water and replaced by a canvas that has no rules. It also changes how the audience move and talk with each other – the space becomes less formal and less intimidating.

5) The Silo

The experience also highlights the power of gatekeepers and the dangerous attitude of putting creative thinking into a silo of ‘the arty fartys’. We faced some suspicion about why we had come, some key people needed more convincing than others and because the event didn’t include winning anything the value we offered (confidence, team work, creative thinking, friendship, leadership, artistic skill, catering, marketing, lighting, health & safety, negotiation, development ideas.. I could go on…) wasn’t immediately obvious. There was lots of ‘we don’t do that’, ‘it’s not for me’ and I am sure there were some people who tried their best to ignore our presence. I have to ask myself why is that? Their fear? Our attitudes? Our work? Perhaps it’s all tied up in the poisonous thought that theatre is only for a few and you either can or can’t do it. Everyone can be creative and everyone is welcome but its up to both sides to break down barriers.


6) Love

Love was very present in Kirkby Stephen and the surrounding communities. You could tell the young people really cared for each other and the way the families engaged with the project and their neighbours was a thing of beauty. When I was on one of my site visits in the snow (remember that?) back in March local people took in stranded motorists and gave them a bed and food. On this summer visit I noticed the Police Station is only open two afternoons a week. In this part of the world the community is the emergency service. Never have I worked on a project where every request was met with a cheery ‘I’ve know someone who can do that” and the next day they appeared ready to offer their services. They took responsibility for each other, for the success of the project and for their visitor’s happiness. How often do you take responsibility for your community (however you define it)?

We feel like we started a beautiful new relationship with Kirkby Stephen and the surrounding area and we can’t wait to go back. I’ll leave you with the thoughts of a parent below. Nathan


“What an amazing experience for the audience but more importantly for the students. Such immersive experiences are vital for a small rural school where geography and funds limit access to mainstream art and culture. It may sound unlikely that eight days can make such a difference to children’s lives but such a unique experience which takes them out of their comfort zone and plunges them into a different world alongside other students they may not have socialised with or thought they had anything in common with can be truly transformative.“


Photos by Ben Holmes


read more Jun. 13th 2018

My name is Melaina Pecorini

Hey there, my name is Melaina Pecorini and I am one of the new recruits to join the company of Tanged feet. I have currently just finished my three-year training at East 15, the course of my choice was BA Acting and Stage Combat.

One of the reason I got into acting, was because I love to get into the mind of the character and understand why they act in that way, to find empathy with someone you may have nothing in common with.

My journey with Tangled Feet started in February, when Kat (one of the Tangled feet directors) attended our showcase, picked us out from the crowed and invited us to audition for ‘That Parking Show’. it was lovely to see the company making a conscious choice of seeking BAME actors for this project.


To continue reading click 'Read the whole story' next to the date at the top.

So far, we have had two weeks of Research and Development. Which included getting to know each other, playing games and creating improves to discover the outline of the overall show. Already it has been such a great process and I don’t think I have ever laughed so much.


That Parking Show will be something you will not want your eyes to miss. It’s a mixture of light-hearted comedy, acrobatic and slapstick elements to exploring the theme of road rage, that I’m sure many drivers have felt before and will be able to relate to and how the little sparks of anger can drastically escalate into a fire of pure rage. 


I have loved working so closely with everyone involved and I can’t wait to get this show on the road.

read more Mar. 28th 2018

It's official: Tangled Feet is Fantastic for Families!

By Kat Joyce


We are very honoured to have been recognised with a prize for Best Family-Friendly Workplace Initiative' by the Fantastic for Families campaign.


Over the years the number of people in the ensemble with kids has grown to the point that there are now more children than adults in the TF tribe. So really, we had to adapt our working lives or we would just not have been able to carry on making work. The upshot of that is that, motivated by our long-standing commitments to working together, we've found loads of creative ways to accommodate people's parenting status.


The theatre industry can be horribly unfriendly towards parents and parents-to-be. I know of women who work at major buildings who privately report a culture where taking time out for motherhood marks you clearly as someone with no desire to succeed. I know actors who have been dropped by their agents during maternity leave because 'it doesn't seem like you want to return to work after your baby'. Others who've had to desperately scrabble around for childcare when production schedules are changed at the last minute. In an industry where there are always more creatives than there are jobs, and people often feel very precarious and disposable, many try to behave as if they don't have children, hiding their families out of sight. This is a real shame, as it means that talent and experience haemorrhage out of our industry as people (mainly women) find family lives incompatible with continuing to work.

To read the full blog click 'Read the whole story' next to the date at the top.

But as TF have found, if you are invested in people and committed to making a relationship work then it is often remarkably easy to make some accommodations so that they can continue being a valued part of the team. We've done flexible working, part time, having meetings via skype, bringing small babies in to work and strapping toddlers on in slings and cracking on with the tech. Ensemble working lends itself job shares and shared responsibilities. It's no hardship to plan a production schedule so everyone has a good few weeks notice. It's very often possible to accommodate someone arriving late or leaving early to pick up a child from nursery. What works for one parent might not work for another, so we've been very proactive about sorting out a solution for each person. 'How can we make this work for you?' is a phenomenally easy question to ask but takes a lot of people by surprise.


And the benefits are manifold. Parents, of course, bring a wealth of skills to the table: patience, ability to juggle, conflict resolution, silliness, and the ability to see the world from a different perspective. When people are freed of the stress of trying to juggle competing demands, they can use that energy creatively. Children in the room often generate play (admittedly, sometimes they are a huge distraction, but swings and roundabouts). But really importantly, people with children understand the pressures of having children, and how to alleviate them. If we want our theatres to be family-friendly places, open and accessible, then we need our theatres and companies to be family-friendly workplaces. One begets the other.


We’ve been out on the road over the last few weeks with our show for 2-7’s Need A Little Help. The show follows the life of a young carer who has to take on the caring responsibilities for her father. The theme of care, families and juggling life’s challenges is central to the performance as well as the creation and touring period (the cast and creative team features 4 parents). To us, it feels like the work has an extra layer of authenticity and love as it focuses on the challenges of being a parent and having a child, as well as being a child and having a parent and was made by parents with children in the room!


What’s been hugely satisfying is the type of tour we’ve been on – its part of a Strategic Touring Scheme named Hopper and takes early years theatre to meet early years audiences in rural settings. Most of the young audience in Watchet, Middlezoy, Taunton and Tidworth had not spent much time in theatres nor had this sort of theatre visited their place of care/education. We had so many comments that the children rarely got the chance to see plays and that it was so important that it connected with their family life and their family relationships. We were so pleased to share the work in this way and continue our commitment to families – both in the company and in the audiences we meet.


Special thanks to all our children and long suffering partners and wider families for their love and creative inspiration.

read more Oct. 10th 2017

World Mental Health Day: Butterflies Diaries #5 by Sara

New Beginnings

Whilst rehearsing the show ‘Butterflies’, I discovered that Butterflies can symbolically mean ‘New beginnings’ which I thought was a lovely affirmation of our title. It was another layer, as butterflies initially came to us in a brainstorm about describing how anxiety feels. I also learnt so much more about Anxiety through our research and discussions that surpassed my personal experiences with it and treating it with therapy and yoga practise.

The show sees three characters going on a big adventurous journey filled with danger and excitement in new scenarios and how they overcome their anxieties in these moments. Every scene is a new beginning, a new thing to overcome, which each character successfully does. Especially at the end standing atop a mountain looking into the horizon , looking ahead to the future. 


This moment had a real personal connection for me. The first time we did it in rehearsals I cried!


Earlier this year I learnt to ski in the French Alps and had really moving moments looking out at 1850 metres above sea level over these beautiful landscapes. It gave me an enormous feeling of hope and new beginnings after a painful few years in my personal life and the fact at 34 I had learnt a new skill I never thought I would do. Skiing is SCARY and when I started to learn I was so anxious and by the end of 2 weeks practise I was loving it! So I really felt a personal connection to the show ending in this way.


As I mentioned I have suffered with anxiety notably since a road accident 6 years ago so I had some knowledge before we started making the show. I have had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help deal with it. It helps you to simplify the sensation of anxiety and explore the anatomy of it to some extent as well. It asks you to question why you feel this way, are you actually in danger, reprogramming the way you behave or react to things both through your thoughts and behaviour. In doing that, you calm down as you rationalise the sensation and learn techniques to cope with them. When we were devising we looked at similar ideas and also found that offering new opportunities and overcoming them might be a good way to let our audience know that having anxiety is OK, and there are ways to overcome it. We looked at the anatomy as well, to deepen our understanding of the physical sensations of anxiety and used this in our devising process. The process deepened my own understanding of anxiety, even having already had therapy for it!


Discussing anxiety out loud with my fellow collaborators made me realise that everyone has anxieties, some heavier than others, but actually that it is OK. It’s a part of life. During a scene in the play where the characters encounter a huge cavernous hole and they all get butterlfies, one of the characters says:


You have it too’

to which my character nods and responds with

It means we won’t jump in’


Anxiety actually protects us from doing things that might harm us. So it is essential to keep us safe. Even though I think I knew this (we all know the feeling of flight fright or freeze in stressful situations) I think now when I suffer with my ‘flutter’ in everyday life I will know its just my body telling me to look after myself, keep myself safe and sound and it will pass. That’s comforting and a new method to incorporate into coping with my own anxieties day to day.


This was a very therapeutic experience for me to explore an issue I actually deal with and also in finding a way to explain and understand it to convey a story to our audience deepened my understanding of it. I have learnt so much from sharing this process with such a great team. Thanks so much to the Butterflies cast & crew.


read more Oct. 4th 2017

Butterflies Diaries #4 - Post show reflections

By Nathan Curry


The rehearsals have rushed by like a runaway train charging towards the station of ‘Performances ‘and it feels like I was hurtling along with it and now have emerged blinking outside the station going ‘Oh! This is where I am!?’


Reflecting back a week after we presented the show it feels slightly like we have unfinished business. The making process of devised theatre means that the narrative of the show is often completed in the imaginations of the audience. You learn so much about how the show is structured and its dynamics by watching an audience experience it – particularly an audience of children. This is why in other styles of theatre you have previews to test the work in front of a live audience. We shared the show four times last weekend and developed it each time but by the final performance it felt like things were really starting to emerge (for me and the actors) that were showing up the real potential and the gaps in the story. I wanted to get straight back at it the following Monday morning.

For the full blog click 'read the whole story' by the title.

We had probably found the structure of the show (through improvising, research and playing) by the end of the first week – 3 friends on an adventure, each with 2 major moments of anxiety and a sense of how the show started and ended. This is like DRAFT 1.  At this stage of the ‘play’ you may share it with your colleagues and friends and receive feedback on its structure and character arcs. This journey of dramaturgy on a new play happens in offices, cafes and over months, sometimes years. In our process it happens live, in the room and over week 2 – this is the editing and testing period.  This becomes DRAFT 2 by the end of the second week. At this stage the traditional new play may start their rehearsal period where ours seems just to be ending (!)…. So into Week 3 and we make it all work in the theatre- adding lighting, the right sound, the final props. And suddenly we have reached the station – the performances.


There is a joy of this by-the-seat-of-our-pants making process. You genuinely offer something up that feels fresh, newly baked and get an instant feedback. The work is so close (in terms of time) to the moment it was created that the actors are still discovering new things right in front of the audiences eyes. It also allows the audience to have an authorial role – they can insert their imaginations into the gaps and for young audiences these imaginations are rich and ready.  I love listening and talking to the audience about what their imaginations conjured, what images meant to them and where the story wobbled.



So onto the next period… Reflection, re-rehearsal and touring in 2018.

read more Sep. 23rd 2017

Butterflies Diaries #3

By Mario Christofides


So first show today of Butterflies and it's an exciting time. Reflecting back over the devising process and R&D, it's been so interesting to learn about anxiety in children (and in general), and about how anxiety lives in all of us. Though our coping mechanisms all differ,  I think the main realisation about it for me is the notions of what 'control' is to us all, about the feelings you get when you are not in 'control' and how your experience becomes something you focus on as a safety tool.

We explored in devising about feelings like 'missing-a-step', 'falling' and 'floating'; in each one of these feelings the surety of the physical world is missing (i.e. the actual sensation of your hands grabbing something or your foot landing on the ground). 


I confess I have times when my anxiety gets the better of me, but whenever I've felt like that one of my coping mechanisms is that I know it's only temporary,  the 'grounding element' is that the feeling has happened before and I'm still here - I've  experienced it already - what's the worst that can happen, right? 


But what if you are not built that way?  What if you feel like you will never get that grounding? You can't control yourself - your descent or ascent, how then can you be sure that you are not going to feel that way forever.  


Very scary, and the really sad thing is that some people no matter how hard they try cannot find that surety of 'I'll get past this'. 


It's really tough place. A place that needs greater awareness I think and makes me glad that we've created a children's show about it. 

read more Sep. 21st 2017

Butterflies Diaries #2 - Spread Your Wings

By Abigail Dawson 


With less than a week until the first performance of ‘Butterflies’ it’s a good time to reflect on the past couple of weeks and how the show has developed.


The whole team came together for the first few days and discussed the idea of anxiety – what our own anxieties are, what can cause anxiety and how to deal with them. It soon became clear that most of us are in fact very anxious people, and we tend to hide it. However, over the course of the two weeks of rehearsals I realised that it is okay to have anxieties, and just like our three characters in the show with the support of each other around us we can combat them together.


Below is a picture of Tunji, one of our actors, showing everyone that we’re nearly ready to spread our wings at Half Moon Theatre and welcome you to ‘Butterflies’!

read more Sep. 20th 2017

Butterflies Diaries #1

By Tunji Falana

Before I was told we were making this show about anxiety/worrying in children, I wasn't fully aware of how it affected people’s day to day or activities. I knew people got anxious or worried as did I from time to time, but never that it stopped people from doing what they should or wanted to do. Growing up in Nigeria, it wasn't really spoken about or echoed not in adults let alone children. The general knowledge was you are worried about it, get over it and do it.

For the full blog click 'read the whole story' by the title.

Now, with research and learning during rehearsals, I have a better knowledge on the subject. The cerebral process, the physical and mental reactions etc. Most of all I feel a little equipped on how to help someone who is anxious or perhaps having a panic attack. I am no professional don't get me wrong, but one of the things I’ve learnt over the course of the time is to acknowledge the feeling, as it allows the person to realize that it’s normal to feel this way. Everyone has either a healthy level of anxiety or that one thing you most worry about and just can’t shake the feeling.

Oh yes! the feeling is a thing and sometimes we can’t explain it, sometimes it takes over our lives. We all experience it at some point. Right now I’m a little nervous that all I have said won’t make sense. However, I am going to focus on the task rather than the outcome.


So come join us, come take a little journey with us as explore this sometimes inexplicable, sometimes hindering, sometimes helpful feeling that we can’t just shake.

read more Sep. 6th 2017

One common factor: Young People

 By Sara Templeman


Two rather different shows.

One outdoors, One indoors. 

One in Luton, One in Croydon

One common factor: Young People 


I've done my fair share of one off drama workshops across Schools Colleges Universities and drama groups with Tangled Feet (TF). We always treat any of our workshop participants as if they were part of the company and we form an ensemble within each group that works uniquely together. That's the basis of all our work. Creating work from the group of people in the room. No script and no idea what will happen. It's an exciting way to work.



For the full blog click 'read the whole story' by the title.

Workshops are often one or two days worth in length, sometimes just an afternoon and although you make a lot of headway and often create small pieces of theatre and magic, there's always scope to develop creative ideas further. It was exciting to embark on two long term projects earlier this Summer with two seperate groups of young people from opposite sides of London (just outside London) Luton & Croydon to be precise. 


'Mirror Sky' up in Luton was a large scale outdoor devised show with a cast of over 100 local young people from a bunch of schools and the wonderful Next Generation Youth Theatre (NGYT). The TF crew consisted of further actors/directors/workshop facilitators. It was to be the finale show at the first year of 'Imagine Luton.'


It was an epic task organising this many young people working in smaller groups with seperate directors and actors over many weeks, learning choreography TF actors had previously devised. The age range was broad with our youngest performer being just 7 years old! The show explored societies obsession with devices (phones) and the fact we all walk around eyes down, not interacting with each other or taking in the surroundings we might be travelling through. Living inside our own digital worlds. The message we were hoping to try to get across was to look up. Look out at the world. Be here now. Interact. Reconnect. We had four groups of young people rehearsing on different afternoons in schools and church halls across Luton learning their own individual movement pieces that would pop up around Luton town centre on the performance day. We had one day when all groups met and rehearsed the mass ensemble finale with over 100 young people dancing and moving together in St. George's Square in Luton. It was no mean feat when it all came together on the day. Amazing team work and focus and energy from all involved meant it was a big success and a really special community project to partake in for us all! Young and Old (ish) alike. 


On that note, 'Tracing the Past' down in Croydon was a community project involving Young and Old from Croydon Youth Theatre Project (CYTO) and the residents of an old people's care home called Whitgift House, as well as other more senior members of The Shoestring Theatre where CYTO are based. The show explored entertainment in Croydon over the last 50 years through accounts from old and young participants. We visited an old people's care home in Croydon with our young people and had the most insightful, jolly and nostalgic afternoon. Old and Young interacted and recalled their experiences of Croydon and what they had all got up to in their spare time in conversation with each other. We recorded the chats to use in the show. The piece was a subtle indoor documentary style piece which was performed in a verbatim style - actors performed with headphones, listening live to the stories we had recorded and spoke them out loud for the audience to hear. Our young people spoke the words of the old and vice versa. 

It was a very simple but effective device for showing the similarities and differences these people had of Croydon. It also transformed 14 year old performers into an 80 year old person in an instant. It was remarkable sometimes. There was a proper respect and regard from both sides in this project. Old were happy to learn that young people still got up to the same old things they had, it wasn't all mobile phones and computer games. 

The oldies (I'm sure they won't mind me calling them that) when they were younger were entertained and excited by new technologies like cinema and music on the radio, then television. We still enjoy that now and technology has rapidly advanced which we enjoy, but we had shared interests that were commonly enjoyed from all participants like dancing and singing, attending cinema, music concerts and enjoying the theatre with friends and loved ones. Also the fact they were part of youth organisations was a very common similarity. It was great to be part of learning this myself as my age sits somewhere between the oldies and the youngies and perhaps you can feel a divide or a distance between social groups like millennial’s, younger people, older generations etc. The fact is we are all still people and enjoy the same things and personal connections and we have more in common than perhaps we might think.


A strong connection throughout both projects was a real sense of community.  All ages coming together with a common interest in theatre and wanting to make work and share stories. What also stands out for me across the board was a dedication and commitment to the respective projects and the human connection experienced by all. We collaborated well with each other and some people didn't know anyone at all when we first started and had been brave to come and get involved. They all volunteered their spare time, brought their own fresh ideas to sessions, did research in their own time and behaved professionally. A massive compliment to the youth organisations and schools where our young people volunteered from.


Thanks to all who were involved across both projects, I loved working with you all!! 


Sara x 


read more Jul. 19th 2017

Mirror Sky - What the students say

Mirror Sky was a thrilling experience which allowed me to engage with the audience (Luton) in a physical way. I enjoyed this because I was able to convey this message of ‘reconnecting’ something I do believe our society struggles with as we have become hypnotised by our mobile phones rather than the world God has created for us. I wouldn’t have done anything different as I felt involved and a part of a community when we performed on the street and in school (practise sessions). The best thing about it was meeting new people from all walks of life, there were: dancers, musicians, actors and other schools involved. I would love to take part in a project like this in the future again, just sign me up!

Michelle - Year 10

When they asked me to do Mirror Sky it made me happy because it can help me do better at drama. Rehearsals for Mirror were fun and exciting because we did dancing and it got me out of my comfort zone it also helped me make new friends and makes you achieve something out of it.

On the day it made me feel so happy because I know that all the hard work would pay off and for people to enjoy it like I did.  After the production was finished it was sad because it was fun and enjoyable. I hope it will be on again soon because it made good memories.

Scott - Year 10

read more Jun. 27th 2017

NPO Announcement

Tangled Feet are thrilled and immensely proud to have been invited to become one of the Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations

Thirteen years ago, as a group of creatives we made a long-term commitment to each other, and we've been on an incredible journey together since then, through thick and thin. It has often been the bond of friendship that has kept the company going when we didn't know when the next bit of funding was going to come from. It's also been this trust in each other - and the trust we've built with partners and venues - which has allowed us to take bold artistic risks, knowing we will all catch each other.


Being an NPO will finally give the ensemble the financial security to create even more ambitious plans. We'll be able to put much more of our time, energy and creativity into making work and building relationships. It will allow us to dream even bigger and we can't wait to get started.  


At a time like this it’s even more important to be making brave, bold stories that investigate and challenge the tensions in the world around us.  This investment will allow us to be more ambitious in sharing our performances with the widest possible audience, inside and outside of theatre buildings. It will allow us to grow our participation programme bringing even more young people into our artistic process and strengthen the support we give to the next generation of theatre makers through our mentoring programmes.


Arts Council England have been hugely supportive partners, over a number of years, through their Grants for the Arts Programme. Inclusion in the Portfolio represents a continuing belief and investment in the work we make, the participants we work with and audiences we meet. We recognise this significant investment of public money and we look forward to sharing our work and passion with our public investors.  We are hugely excited to be continuing our close relationship with venues, participants and audiences in the South East of England.


We want to say thank you to some of the many people who have helped us get to this place - in particular, our Chair Annabel Turpin and the team at ARC Stockton, our Board of Trustees, Watford Palace Theatre, Bradley Hemmings and all at GDIF, Tanya Peters and all at Brighton Festival, our friends at Half Moon, ISAN, EEA and 101 Creation Space.


We owe a massive and ongoing thank you to our artists, our audience, the young people and participants who have given us their ideas and energy. That energy and investment is the thing which has always fuelled us, and is the support that means the most to us.


read more Jun. 9th 2017

In Limbo

By Kat Joyce
Well, we're all in political limbo today.
Those of us who have the pleasure of experiencing the imagination, drive, passion and integrity of the younger generation on a regular basis are perhaps less surprised at the swell of political engagement and energy and its transformative power at the polls. It's wonderful and exciting to imagine that the creativity and intelligence of the next generation – a resource which has all too often been squandered – is finally being focussed onto our political landscape and its challenges. If we are to solve the enormous problems that confront us this century, we as a society desperately need the resource of those young minds, that young energy, those creative ideas.
Click 'read whole story' next to the date at the top to see the full blog

Tangled Feet are also currently in another kind of limbo, as we await the decisions of this next round of the Arts Council's NPO funding later this month. Tangled Feet have never been a 'National Portfolio Organisation' (this surprises some people) and never felt the multiple benefits of a regular, reliable, long-term funding agreement. We have always been funded project-by-project, with no 'core' funding, which makes it much more challenging to develop long-term relationships and strategy and to put in place some of our more ambitious plans. Becoming an NPO would alleviate so much uncertainty, allow us to make a robust five-year plan. It would free us up to operate as artists and spend more time making work and building relationships, rather than dealing with the ever-constant problem of where the next tranche of money comes from to keep our infrastructure running.
 We'll be anxiously awaiting the NPO announcements on 27th June, which will define the future for us as a company almost as much as the election will define the next 5 years politically. However strong our case, unfortunately the Arts Council will have to be making tough and complex decisions about who they fund this round. At the beginning of June we really had no idea what the next five years will look like (and perhaps politically it will take a while to become clear.) But whichever way the chips fall in the wake of the election and the NPO decisions, we will still carry on doing what we do: we'll continue to try to creatively rethink the huge problems we face as local and global communities. Continue to create opportunities for people to come together in public spaces and be part of narratives that wrestle with these challenges. And continue to be inspired by the next generation and buoyed by their ideas, energy and hope. Never mind a magic money tree - that's a resource which will never run out.  

read more Nov. 7th 2016

Mother of All Tours

by Abbi Dawson


As we come to the end of the Kicking & Screaming tour it’s a good time to look back and see how much the show has grown since we first took it out in April last year when it was just a little wee baby trying to find it’s feet.


 As my role as Stage Manager at the end of every show I clean up the set and all the mess of the toys, yoghurt and Shreddies that have been thrown around, and I cannot help but think of myself as a mother picking up after a long day with her kids. I’ve seen K&S develop from one tour to the next, and the characters thrive. It has certainly been a fun filled journey, with plenty of laughs along the way.


A show day from start to finish can take me through a whole range of emotions; such as joy, rage, love, sadness, optimism, fear and surprise. A roller-coaster ride that I believe could mirror a day in the life of a parent, and I am sure our two directors would agree with this.


The final scene of K&S perfectly describes how I feel about the show (spoiler alert for who has not watched it yet). Watching each washing line come out of the washing machine, starting from baby clothes that grow in size up until young adults, and knowing it’s time for them to leave the nest and fly. The 8thNovember in Reading is our final show, I will feel like a very sad parent who has seen my baby grow up and leave. However, in the hopes that they would come back and visit, I also hope this will not be the last time we get to re-visit K&S and I’m extremely excited and hopeful for it’s future.


 We’ve had lots of fun and adventures along the way, below is a picture from our 27mile bike ride to Stonehenge with some of the Tangled Feet family on K&S!

read more Nov. 2nd 2016

Cuddles and conversations

By Al Orange



Kicking and Screaming is quite a big show to get into a space in one day.  We have lighting, live sound, a set with lots of bits that need putting together and projection, and as technical manager, I often don’t get to see that much of the places we are visiting as my days are filled with wiring and programming and sound checking, and I sometimes spend far more of my time with my equipment than I do with the other members of the cast.


But there is one moment that I enjoy more than any other on this tour, something that helps to wash away all the tiredness and stress of managing the show, and that is the simple pleasure of cuddling babies, and talking to parents.  We have been doing a series of baby-friendly shows in most of our venues, and it is an extraordinary moment in time.  Quite apart from providing a much needed opportunity for new parents to be included in the arts, they provide such a wonderful atmosphere and shared social space.


Parents take a lot longer to leave an auditorium than other theatre goers.  Babies need changing, they need feeding, they need the chance to crawl around on the play mats after having sat still for over an hour.  And this is where I have my special moment.  I have had so many wonderful conversations with parents, who have really shown their appreciation for how we have created a space of them and their children.  It is extremely heartening to know that we are doing something that is so precious to people, that we are addressing an access need that has been ignored for too long in so many areas of society.


And then there’s the cuddles.  I have met some very special tiny people, and remembering them brings a smile to my face.  There was the little girl who was fascinated by my pink hair, and stopped crying every time she saw me.  There was a beautiful little boy who just had the softest head in the world.  There were two lovely little twin boys who just kept wanting to hug each other.  And all of them seem to love the music and the lighting just as much as their parents are enjoying the play.  I’m extremely proud of the special shared experience we have managed to create, and Kicking and Screaming is one of those shows that will always have a place in my heart.


For the purposes of illustration here is me cuddling Tangled Feet stunt baby, Claude.

read more Nov. 2nd 2016

'Sara and Ciaran need to talk, Royce and I can't speak and Laura floats somewhere in-between.'

by Hannah Gittos

I'm about to get ready and head to the Hackney Showroom for our 2 day run in London. Very exited and nervous to be doing the show to a home crowd!

Having previously toured this show last year I thought I had an idea of the experience I was about to embark on. Yet, like most things in life, nothing ever turns out the way you imagine!

I've found this a difficult show to be involved with at times. I'm a single 36 year old woman with no children. Delving into the complexities of parenthood and the intricacies of the relationships that surround it has been fascinating, difficult and sometimes heart wrenching.

I wonder if I'll ever experience being a mother?

As I stand as Ronnie and watch the children's clothes come out in the final scene of the show the reality of never having children sometimes flashes before my eyes. I can't quite articulate at the moment how I feel about that.

When the five of us are behind stage in the pre-show waiting to begin there is a very distinctive energy amongst us all. I can best describe it as like being suspended at the top of a roller coaster before it plunges into the unknown. Sara and Ciaran need to talk, Royce and I can't speak and Laura floats somewhere in-between.

The audiences have been so diverse from captivated babies, teenagers, uni students, parents, grandparents, carers, friends who all seem to have been touched in some way by the story lines. It's really wonderful be part of something that can do that. It reminds me of why we do what we do.

After our first night at Hackney, I travel home with one of my best mates who came to see the show. She's an extraordinary women. She made the brave and selfless decision to foster her nephew when she was 6 months pregnant with her daughter. To say that she's experienced the raw reality of what parenting can be really is an understatement.

As we walk from the train she says to me;

"This is why I love the theatre. I felt a bit shit before I came out. I had a headache and really wasn't in the mood. Seeing that show has jolted me into a completely different head space. It's so important".

As the tour comes to an end, I'm realising how important and wonderful this tour has been for so many reasons. It has completed a personal and professional journey for me that started 3 years ago with the R and D for our previous show PUSH. I'm so very proud of everyone involved and thank Tangled Feet from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity.

read more Oct. 19th 2016

Me - Morale coordinator

By Royce Cronin
All of life is contained in our tour as we get out of a theatre. Joy, sadness, rage, elation, community, graft, conflict, love and a big red van. Not the 'get ins' because us actors get away with not having to help with that. But the 'get OUTs' have got it all.  As we get to our assigned duties we deconstruct the last show, the mistakes, triumphs and new unusual audience reactions. Here in Newcastle at Northern stage it's been a great run of 4 shows. A gorgeous mix of audience; mothers & fathers, tiny babies, theatre bar staff (thanks Bruno!) and Newcastle Uni student theatre society (@nutsncl) made each show so different.  And the last show before packing up launched us happily into the back of the van with our messy set.  
Our jobs:
Al-Get out OverLord 
Abi-Get Out Ninja
Hannah-Costume Zen Master
Sara-Sound and Music Mama
Ciaran-Lifts heavy stuff
Laura-Wanders around trying to look busy (Holding toys)
Nathan- Van Feng Shui Daddy
Me-Morale coordinator. 
Here's a triumphant picture taken from inside the van just after finishing-Abi is absent as she is still actually doing some work

read more Oct. 12th 2016

'Less than 24 hours ago I had seen a new tiny person arriving into the world.'

By Laura Mugridge
Rehearsals for the show started on a Monday, about 4 weeks ago. I wasn’t there for the first two days, I swanned in on Day Three. I wasn’t there because I was in St Thomas’s Hospital. I spent some time sitting on a birth ball, some time lying on the floor and a fair amount of time standing up. I also spent a lot of time staring at a floodlit Houses of Parliament, the rather extraordinary view from the window of the ward.
Last year, after the first tour of Kicking and Screaming, I trained to be a doula. A doula is, in essence, a birth partner, someone who is there at the birth of a baby to support the parents and can also offer pre natal and post natal support.  This was my second experience of being present at a birth (third if you count the birth of my son in 2012- I was very much there for that) 

The person doing all the work was my beautiful warrior friend Jules, someone for whom I have more love and respect than I ever thought possible. To see someone be so strong, so vulnerable, so primal and so beautiful all at the time was utterly overwhelming. I left the hospital at 5pm on the Tuesday, emerged blinking into the sunlight, and the world seemed a little bit different. 

Coming back into the rehearsal room on the Wednesday was a strange, exhilarating and generally odd experience. There I was onstage, talking about giving birth, when less than 24 hours ago I had seen a new tiny person arriving into the world, all tiny hands and crinkly feet and beautiful peepy eyes.  I’m not going to get all boasty and Daniel Day Lewis on you, but I reckon that as far as research goes, this was pretty extreme. 
Talking about birth in the show feels different now and I am fired up to be present at more of them.  It’s such an enormous topic, one so full of emotion and politics and unanswerable questions. I have had to release the pressure to try and sum up all births in the show, as there is no way we could do that. There are as many different births as there are people. 

So, this little blog is for you, darling Neve. My new little pal. And the show is a little bit for you too. 

read more Oct. 3rd 2016

'What will we be listening to on our month of road trips?'

By Ciaran Kellgren
Rehearsals are over. Two intense weeks where we have achieved some great things ( at least I think so). Myself and Royce Cronin have joined the compsny and have had to learn, and add to, the existing show. The original cast have been very patient with us and have helped us to understand every aspect of the show.
So now to life on the road. 5 of us driving the country as a troupe of professional actors, bringing this great show to the UK in exchange for the finest wines known to humanity and creamed scones. And what will we be listening to on our month of road trips? Don't worry Laura has it covered ;) 


read more Jul. 6th 2016

'They have given us all a little more hope....thank you audiences.'

By Emily Eversden


As you climb up the scaffold ladder and haul yourself and your luggage to the top of our structure for the third time in a six hour show, you don't know what response you'll get from this set of onlookers.  They look up at you, another new arrival, and watch you for your next move. 

Spat out of the multicoloured, beautiful design by Alex Rinsler and Mike De Buts, sometimes we don't know what our next move is. I look around trying to make eye contact with someone, many avoid this but one lady holds my gaze and gives me a little half wave. "That's nice" I think. 

Once I've made the descent down the knotted rope (doesn't get any less scarier even after 50+ descents by the way) and had a little explore, I find that lady again and set up camp in front of her. Whatever I do in those next 5 minutes has an effect on her because she's started to cry. This happened to me on the second day of our Brighton shows with a man, a Dad watching the show with his daughters. I knew from a little, sad shake of his head that he had created a story for my character and he understood some of what we were trying to show and suggest. 

Our audiences have given us all such a wealth of different responses; offering water, pointing us in the right direction, giving advice and bananas, taking our snacks, asking if they can climb the rope, big waving, secret waving, dancing with us, holding to their chest a tiny pair of shoes, pulling a wheelie across the performance space, blowing kisses, asking what planet we come from, holding our luggage. It's been an adventure, an experiment, but we've found that the majority of their responses have been full of care, understanding and help and they have given us all a little more hope....thank you audiences xxx 

read more Jun. 30th 2016


By John Hinton


6am: alarm wakes me from second night in a row of recent-events-inspired nightmares about trying desperately to go back on a calamitous and irreversible decision.  I bounce out of bed and immediately crick my neck, which does not bode well for all the physical activity I'll be subjecting my body to this afternoon.


 7:20am: train from Lewes to Victoria. Having spent the past two days studiously avoiding social media for fear of being drawn down a black hole of despair, I trawl social media.  And am drawn down a black hole of despair.


 8:30am: tube across London.  I play backgammon against a dumb AI.  And lose.


 8:55am: train from Euston to Watford.  First caffeine of the day. 


 9:15am: day is considerably brightened by the sight of my director Nathan on the platform of Watford Junction in shorts and a T-shirt - willing the weather to stay fine for our outdoor performances, and shining with the splendour of spring.

10am: warm-ups in our ample changing room at Watford library. A thick cloud of political upheaval hangs over an otherwise happy reunion: we have not seen each other since we performed the show at Brighton Festival a few weeks back.  And it's all all right really: we're going to put things one tiny percentage point right by giving the world some pertinent street theatre to mull upon.

10:30am: we remind ourselves of the 'Watford version' - we'd always known we'd be two people down today, and had hid a plan up our sleeve.  We refind it, and each other - complicity rekindled.


 11:15am: to the Structure, for rope climbing practice. I am the first one allowed down the rope, and take this picture of Watford High Street from the top.  It's five metres down.  Which is a long way when there's no net, no grass, no spotters, no harness, no belief in a benevolent omnipotent supernatural deity.  I do sometimes get dizzy at height, but I have always felt totally at ease with the Structure.  (By the way, we do have our own name for the Structure, but I won't share it here, for fear of attracting the wrong sort of googletraffic)

11:30am: stumble-throughs of the three scenes: Washing Line, Lifejackets, and Quoops.



Midday: to the library, to get into costume and splatter multicoloured cornflower on our faces (now that I see it written, I'm not actually sure it actually is actually cornflower but no matter)

12:30: show 1 begins.  I am again the first to appear at the top of the Structure - an honour believe me.  As I emerge, a commotion is ensuing below: there is an almighty flurry of deckchairs, as the seating for the performance is distributed and rearranged.  You may think this would have happened before the performance began, but we do things a little differently at Tangled Feet.



12:35: I begin my descent down the rope.  I'm not quite being as ooh-risky-risky-might-fall-y as I was in Brighton, mainly because of my neck.  At the bottom, I tentatively approach the bedeckchaired spectators and show them my X-ray collection.  Three others as cornflowered as me emerge and descend. We do not know each other.



1:10pm: scene 1, Washing Line.  It doesn't quite go as planned: the washing line itself is new, and the coat hanger doesn't glide quite as smoothly along it as it did on the last one.  I'm playing the Father for the first time, and remember most of my new cues.



1:30pm short break while the other tag team do their descents into Lifejackets.  I eat my Caesar salad, which I've just remembered I never gave Leon the money for.



2:15pm: my second descent and roam.  I count coins and brush my teeth.  Or my character does.  I've just realised he doesn't have a name.



2:30pm: scene 3: Quoops.  Goes pretty well, I think. 



2:45pm: we dance our Finale, for the first of two times today.  This is my absolute favourite part of the show, and there are moments in here that rank among my fave choreographies from all twelve-ish Tangled Feet shows I've been part of.



3:03pm: everyone gets a little break, and my team gets a longer break while the others begin show 2 with Washing Line.  Conversation drifts inevitably towards the calamities in the headlines.  I make a point of staying relatively tight-lipped, though I feel the wrath, and of chilling the fork out.

3:45pm: my fourth emergence, straight into Lifejackets.  This is the least abstruse of the three scenes - the imagery and implications are crystal clear.  I'd wager that, what with the upheavals occurring closer to home, many people have shelved their concerns for the suffering of those dying daily on life rafts in the Mediterranean.  We serve up a needed and unsentimentalised reminder.



5:25pm: I pimp my services to the other tag team, who are down a body for Quoops.



5:45pm: the final Finale.  It goes very well, except that I collide with a fellow actor twice - the same actor, and entirely my fault both times.  At the end, we get that kind of round of applause that's just a little bit louder and sincerer than you were expecting, and it gives you the warm glow of having made something of an impact on people's day.



6pm: the show is over.  Wet wipes are daubed on multicoloured foreheads and cheeks.  Sweaty costumes are dumped in a bag for the wonderful stage management team to worry about.  Bruises are compared.  (I mention my neck but if it ain't a bruise you ain't got nothin' to show.)



7pm: we go for dinner.  I have a somewhat underwhelming burger, and the talk is 90% EU.  It is too early to ask how Tangled Feet will react.



8:35pm: I leave Imagine Watford festival behind for another year as my train departs the Junction to take me - via the Victoria line - back to Lewes and home.



11:13pm: the welcomed embrace of a loving - and three months pregnant - wife.  What world for our children - born and unborn?  The outlook may have darkened of late, but I'm perversely cheered by the knowledge that states always have been - and always will be - rotten to the core.  We can but hope that the freedom of expression we enjoyed today - to make progressive, socially-conscious, government-subsidised art that is completely free for its audience to consume - survives for our children to create and enjoy.

read more Jun. 30th 2016

'Without an amazing crew like them, we would be unable to tell our story right.'

By Tunji Falana

When creating an outdoor show of any kind be it conventional theatre or physical theatre or a show on a loop for 8hrs that involves climbing down a 7m high structure, you always plan for a wet weather version. That is a version that should in case its drizzling, we do x y and z take it easy etc. Well the version for when its really bucketing it is just no show. This is what we were greeted with for our first show of Emerge/ncy at Brighton on the 28th May 2016, a bank holiday weekend. I know its silly but often I equate bank holiday to sunny day, but the weather/nature doesn't care what I think. So the show was delayed for 3hrs on the first day.



We began the show, it’s great, the audience is with us but with caution as the grass is wet from heavy rain and no one really wants to stand let alone sit in puddles.  As performers we braved our condition through slips and slides, I myself had a big fall/slide, but used it in the action as I was struggling to stay on a boat.



After my slip and fall, I couldn't help but wonder if that was a real boat. Then I started to think about those who have/had risked it all for a better life, perhaps did fall off a boat at some point and struggled to climb back on board. Some I presume made it back on and others didn't. I no longer felt sorry for myself but rather glad that we are able to give a minuscule representation or idea of what it would be like to flee ones home and go through such horrid condition in order to have a chance and a safer life.

The second day, we were off to a great start, the weather was great. Yes! A proper bank holiday, families were out, picnics, children running wild. Oh yes children!! They became our traveling audience who followed us back and forth, asking questions, making sense of the story, which was beautiful. The only thing is we really couldn't answer them with coherent language, stay true to the character and all. Nonetheless, the children made of it what they wanted and joined (although sometimes in the way) when they wanted. At some point I was beginning to think we were babysitters as parents watched their children dive into the deep end.


All in all we ended on a high, with the wind doing its part to make its presence know via props and costumes. All the performers did extra ordinarily well, our Directors needless to say are always brilliant. I’d like to give a big shout out to our crew especially Luke Gledsdale, Abbi Dawson and Jenny Kassner, for taking care of us, setting resetting, figuring and execution solutions to problems. From rehearsals to performance, without an amazing crew like them, we would be unable to tell our story right.


We aren’t done yet; next stop Woolwich 2nd July. Come one come all.


read more Jun. 22nd 2016

'This is something you can’t rehearse or experience until the live day' - Sara Templeman

Emerge/ncy premiered at Brighton Festival late last month. The first of three performances across the South East this Summer. It was a brilliant location for our first ‘outing.’ I LOVE BRIGHTON!!

After rehearsing on the structure indoors it felt so different suddenly having the structure outside, laid bare for the public in the middle of a popular park with the elements at force. It seemed smaller to look at, but still felt enormous to climb up it, nerve wracking to stand on the narrow platform at the top of it and then bracing yourself for the epic climb off it down that rope! Even more than in rehearsal now being faced with wind blowing making the whole structure move and the materials flap around as you climbed up and stood high upon it taking in the 360 degree surroundings!


Sadly the rain won on the morning of our first performance day so we didn’t get to start the performance until the early afternoon. We were then extremely lucky with sunshine for the whole of the rest of the weekend.

Anyway enough of the weather forecast!

We had a lot to contend with in our performances – seagulls and children were particularly present and we had to be careful, aware and open with our interactions once we were off the structure. This is something you can’t rehearse or experience until the live day as you have no idea how people will react or if they will interact at all!


There were a few instances of gaining a gaggle of children following us around the park asking silly questions – an honest response but it was a common feeling amongst the group that we wanted to try and fit into the surroundings and not stand out and as this really highlighted our presence it made me personally feel a but vulnerable.


So I had to ignore the children! It felt a bit mean and feels a bit mean to type that but I think it was necessary to try and find more interesting moments with other audience members.


A few interactions stand out for me. I had a moment with a large map and a lovely Spanish man and his daughter came over and tried to help me navigate my way around the map. He totally went along with the game (The map was actually of Snowdonia not Brighton) and he showed me a spot to get to on the map and spoke Spanish the whole time! It didn’t matter I didn’t understand him as we found a way to communicate regardless of the language barrier. It was a really interesting moment for me. I love that our shows can be understood purely on physical interaction and no script/dialogue.


I actually got a cuddle from an audience member during ‘The Happening’ which works as a finale moment of the show. We are physically asking the audience if we are accepted and in getting an actual hug, it really moved me and made me feel just that - Accepted!

The final moment for me that really resonated was during the finale again. We offer a series of movements asking for acceptance and during that we gained nods and smiles and a real sense of togetherness with the audience and it moved me to tears. It was a remarkable reaction as a performer as I feel like for the first time I truly connected with the message of the piece and had a unique response within myself! It was a surprise that I would be so connected as we hadn’t had much chance to play around with audience or indeed character. We didn’t even have character names and I hadn’t really finalised any specific traits or personality for my character as I made the decision to ‘demonstarte’ rather then ‘act’ as such. Then being live on the day, feeding from the audience made it all very clear and simple and gave me a unique feeling as a performer that I haven’t really felt before in any show I’ve ever done.

read more May. 25th 2016

Once you are safe how do you seek refuge?

By Gemma Creasey


I first became involved with Emergency in the initial creation when it was known as Funnel. As suggested by the working title, this was to be a piece that would have a powerful visual impact in the space it occupied. Along with it’s visual presence, are the emotional journeys of the people arriving to the environment during the piece. Who are these invaders? Where have they come from? and why are they here?

The word 'refugee' is thrown around in the media and often brings up images of poverty and desperation. This means that all are put under the same label allowing us to ignore the fact that these are individuals with personal stories and journeys. During this project I realise how lucky I am because these situations do not discriminate. Anyone can be put in a state of emergency and be forced to leave their home and everything they know. Once you are safe how do you seek refuge in a foreign land and integrate within a new community? It could happen to any of us.

read more May. 24th 2016

These seriously strong women make it look effortless.

By Sara Templeman


As we near the end of rehearsals for Emerge/ncy I have come to realise that this show for me is massively about personal challenge and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. 

It's been incredibly daunting hoiking myself over the edge of a very high structure with the only way off it supporting my whole body weight down a rope. 

As a non aerial performer and a bit of a wobbly person at height this has been a massive challenge. 

With the encouragement support and patience of an amazing cast and crew we are all finding our own way and at our own pace. 

First off it was all about learning rope technique taught to us by the wonderful Gemma and Jess who make climbing and descending down a rope look easy. It is not! These seriously strong women make it look effortless but it is all about mega effort. It's based in a foot lock from silks technique which enables you to feel secure to climb up and down a rope.

In preparation for the show and this technique we were told we'd need to build upper body strength which has never been my strong point.  Pardon the pun. So in advance I trained hard at the gym doing weight training and with a daily exercise regime I could do at home focussing on core and upper body strength. I've surprised myself with the results! Also enjoyed a bit of a play on the monkey bars down the local park too as well as a day out in a climbing range bouldering and belaying to get some confidence with my height fear! So it was a lot of fun as well as a challenge. 

After a few days coming down the rope in a harness and getting used to the height and technique today (Thursday) was a massive moment as I free climbed down the rope (albeit with knots in tied in to help but I still did it!!) 

It was a proper buzz, my hands were shaking a lot afterwards but felt an enormous sense of achievement. Also watching the other performers in the team all manage it as well was so lovely to watch. There was a real sense of achievement and unity. 

We are still to decide whether to have a straight rope which I'm yet to free climb down (I need a harness currently for this) or use the knotted rope. Either way I'm  feeling happy that in either instance I can actually do it. It's Such a relief! 

I'm definitely in a good and positive place about this aspect of the show now having put aside my fear and anxiety and trusting myself that I can do it. It means I now have more head space and focus to look forward to the other aspects of the piece so finding details of character and cementing the movement we do off the structure over the last few days of rehearsal. 

Can't wait for the finished piece to be ready for our premiere at Brighton Festival weekend after next :)

read more May. 20th 2016

Where is the devising I hear you cry!?

We are in a slightly strange position going into the first(and last!) full week of rehearsals for Emerge/ncy as we on day one we had the complete set built in the rehearsal room, we did a full costume fitting with all costumes ready made and we used most of the music that will feature in the final show. Where is the devising I hear you cry!?


It’s been quite a long journey to get to rehearsals. The aim for Emerge/ncy was to do something a bit different. This has resulted in having to decide certain things much earlier in the process than we may be used to.


Firstly we are mixing theatre with visual art. We wanted to create a sculptural addition to the landscape that could sit somewhere for a number of days. Reflecting themes of climate change, global inequality and the refugee crisis has resulted in us wanting to create something that was longer than 20 minutes, that was landscape changing and that could not be neatly packed away. This has given us a large piece of set design that bursts through the festival landscape and stands 7m tall. Something at that scale needs a lot of planning to make sure it stays up!


Secondly we are working with a large cast and a durational style of performance which means we have had to limit our rehearsal time. In many ways you would think that performing for 7 hours straight and with a cast of 9 you would need many weeks rehearsal space (we wish) however getting everyone in a large enough rehearsal space for set and creative team is expensive.  Added to this is the fact that if you want to make 9 original costumes to rehearse in (important for physical work) you need to make them before all the performers are in the final rehearsal.


So decisions start early. In some ways it is massively daunting to have everything pre-planned and slightly unwieldy. The first time we saw everything together (Set, costumes, music, performance) a lot of decisions had already been made and were set. However it some ways its also really reassuring and exciting to have so many tools at our disposal and ready to put into action – not just imagine!


Nathan Curry - Co-Artistic Director of Emerge/ncy

read more May. 4th 2016

'Tour Tales' by Sophie Tetlow

Touring Need A Little Help has been a wonderfully fun journey- both literally and figuratively. We’ve wizzed (or crawled in traffic) up and down the country in our not-so-subtle bright orange van filled with cast, crew and set that has to be so tightly packed I reckon we could win the Tetris world championships. 

Our get-ins and get-outs became a game as we all placed bets on how many minutes it would take us, however after game no.2 we had to make our bets on a piece of paper and remove our watches as people were accused of ‘sabotage’. During the long journey from Newcastle to London we found the answer to many of life’s unanswered questions, such as ‘what is the best vegetable?’ and ‘what is the best animal- a goat, a horse or a whale?’. Discussions around these topics got very heated but luckily it didn’t tear the touring company apart and the show went on.


The reception in all the cities has been great, and during the playtime at the end of the show I’ve been privileged enough to overhear some lovely comments from both children and parents. The kids were comfortable and playful in the space, so much so that it became a problem getting them to leave before we had to reset for the next performance!


Sophie x

ASM on Need A Little Help Tour 2016

read more Apr. 13th 2016

Life on Tour. A la Sarah (aka Ella)

What do you get when you have an orange van - driven by an Orange, a bag of pink feathers, some aching muscles and some sweaty costumes? Need a Little Help on tour of course.

Although the glamour of touring life soon wears off there are many a high points - like the charming stuck-in-the-80's b&b in Darlington, the van banter (not Sophie though, she is a cheater and even though she is in the back I can see her and her wikipedia searching phone), tea club pre bed - invite only - and all the lovely staff and tech teams at each venue... and of course the show! Well it's a joy - we may be tired and travel worn and forgetting if we've already done this bit or not today but the audiences - well the kids mainly - have been incredible. Every show is different, the children engaged and excited to help and each show there are new exclamations, revelations and inspiring comments from the little people. It's a privilege to be invited into their world for a while and their, and the adults feedback, has been so touching and makes me see even more the importance of this piece.



Best bed: Without a doubt with Mary in Newcastle.
Worst bed: The soulless rooms of the Travel Lodge.
Best meal: Mexican in Brighton - we got free Nacho's
Worst meal: General lack of green fresh things.

read more Mar. 7th 2016

TF entertain at Awards Ceremony

Tangled Feet were approached to bring an enchanted forest to life at the iGB Awards at Electric Brixton organised by iGaming.


The brief was to totally immerse guests into another world based on their chosen theme of Enchanted Forest. We created pop up moments of wonder with recognisable but dishevelled fairy tale characters appearing all over the venue disorientated and lost in the woods, being chased by blood thirsty wolves all amongst the crowd. 

Our performers appeared out a Narnia wardrobe which we built into the structure of the building and found themselves in the weird and wonderful forest land. There, guests mingled with stilts walkers disguised as foliage, dancers with glitter balloons popping above their heads, they witnessed silks artists as flying nymphs, a moving forest of bodies and other worldy characters like our snake charmer, Missy Fatale.




read more Feb. 28th 2016

How we made Need A Little Help

Need A Little Help is about looking after other people. It’s about a father and daughter who are a great team and spend a lot of time together. One day the father becomes incapacitated (in the show he gets his arm stuck inside a long metallic tube) and the daughter has to start to help him out, do more work around the house and care for him. The tube can represent many things but in some way there is a change in their relationship and things can’t be the same again.

The piece is inspired by the experience of young carers. These stories are often hidden behind doors and walls and happen inside people’s homes but have a huge impact on young people’s lives. We wanted to shine a light on the world of young carers. Over the last two years we have been working with a group of young carers in South London, facilitating drama workshops with them. The show is inspired by their stories.


Having spent some time with young carers we were taken with how adult they had to behave yet they were still in children’s bodies. They showed huge capacity for care and nurture. We wanted to try and find a way to share this theatrically but with a uplifting, fun and touching story, We also knew we were making a show for under 8’s so therefore it had to be appropriate and accessible for them.  We initially did some research and development on what the style of the piece would be and then built from there.  


The audience gets involved in the show. We wanted to offer them the chance to understand and feel what its like to be a carer and to physically care for someone else. The show is completed by the involvement of the audience. It’s about taking care of each other.


Need A Little Help tours from March 3rd - May 14th see here for details.



read more Dec. 2nd 2015

Tangled Feet speak at ISAN conference

This November, Kat and Nathan were invited by ISAN's new Director, Angus McKechnie, to contribute to the Independent Street Arts Network conference. In a session about why artists make the the work they make, Kat and Nathan spoke about “Putting the Politics Back In To Outdoor Work”. There was a very vibrant and full Q and A after our presentation, and we felt like there's a big appetite for explicitly talking about and addressing politics in outdoor work.

The full text is below. 

"We have been asked us to speak about our work and why it often starts from a political point of view, how we negotiate this when creating work and how we work with our partners when the subject matter is ‘more risky’.


We want to start with telling you what the company stands for.

We believe:

•that art has the power to transform lives

•in shared decision making, in equal creative stake, in fair and equal pay

•that sharing stories and narratives in public spaces builds our empathetic connection with each other and brings us closer together

•in young people’s potential to change the world and their right to be seen as a significant part of it


These are the fundamental principles, which have been put together by a group of people. They were discussed as a team and developed over time. We hope that both how the work is made and how it meets its audience and partners affirms these principles.


We’re an ensemble theatre company and believe in collaborative creation. Every artist has an input into the production (and often participants too). The work comes from a range of voices – we want space too for the audience’s thoughts and voices in our work.


We attempt to be democratic in the process of making the work and we believe our performances are not finished until the audience’s presence and minds complete them.


We have been working together for over 10 years and now number somewhere between 15-20 artists. The long term working relationships of our ensemble enable us to be bold, take risks, and to learn together as well as take on subjects of increasing complexity and scale.

We make work about the stories, tensions and concerns that we feel in the world around us and which feel too urgent not to be told. Sometimes these are national or global concerns, like the intertwined pressures of global inequality and climate change, or the huge problem of youth unemployment. And sometimes they are about how human lives intersect with large economic forces at work: How do we value the work of carers? What’s the human story of urban regeneration? Does anyone actually understand the global financial crisis? Our projects inform each other and due to the nature of ensemble we have a shared history of making this work together.


Each performance is different but contains some distinctive choices that reveal our belief system and how it exists within our productions, and that's what we're going to talk about.


Each performance we’ve made has been a learning experience.


We make decisions about the relationship with the audience, the framing of the themes and the performance style as we develop the show.

The form of the work is often driven by the theme but there are some characteristics we think we return to.


The whole process is a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle in the dark- trying to find the shape of the production.


We aim to tackle political themes without lecturing – imaginatively, finding new insights – we need to be taking ourselves on a journey where we don’t know the answers to the questions we are asking, otherwise we’ll bore the audience.


Probably because we are a devising company and start with our own experiences, we are less interested in fantasy and tend to focus on recognisable characters and stories, which we then find ways of elevating above the level of the pedestrian. We enjoy the audience recognising themselves or people that they know in the work.


Often, like with All That Is Solid Melts into Air (a show about urban regeneration) we’ve made our shows while embedded within a community or participatory process. In this case we worked alongside Thomas Tallis School, on the edge of the Ferrier Estate in South East London, where both the school and the estate were being regenerated. Many of people on the estate (and who were connected to the school) were trying to grip onto the present whilst being asked to imagine an uncertain future. By embedding the process of making the work alongside real life events, the work becomes more relevant, purposeful and is inspired by reality.


We want to entertain too and by adding spectacle to our politics we aim to create work where the everyday becomes larger than life and the ordinary becomes extraordinary. By using aerial techniques where the body is at risk we encourage the audience to feel the tension and stakes of the situation. Watching a couple dangle themselves upside down whist trying to get a crying baby to sleep tells the story of an uncertain future in a very extra-ordinary way.


We attempt to ask big questions with our work but make them palatable and accessible to an audience


Inflation was an attempt for us to understand what happened when the government bailed out the banks and protected the structures and frameworks in banking with a resultant policy of austerity. It’s a huge and complicated issue to unpick – particularly in a mostly physical piece of theatre, on a bouncy castle.


By starting from the point of our own ignorance and failure to comprehend, and by using clowning, visual humour and buffon we negotiated quite bamboozling and complicated information by presenting naïve characters.


It is a technique often employed by playwrights to impart complicated information to audiences - they add a naïve character who has the ability to ask 'stupid' questions.


With Inflation it also allowed us expose the ridiculous situation the country found itself in and the tragic and comedic nature of made up money. It also made it fun which was really important when creating work about banks that didn’t scare away its audience.


But political work also needs to have large ambition and not just be a side-show. When Bradley Hemmings asked us to make a finale sized performance a few years ago we knew it was a chance to be political at scale.


We had noted previously that there was a prevalence of work at scale that had fantastical narratives – stories of myth, of fable or work based around magical themes. We had found a lot of this work joyous and crowds loved it but, for us, those narratives were not able to articulate what we wanted to say.


We knew we needed a piece of work to entertain a crowd of thousands – it needed to be spectacular and uplifting but also include the recognisable stories and characters, ask big questions and create empathetic feeling in our audience that are, as we have suggested, are hallmarks of our work.


Having worked with a large number of young people over many years we knew the pressures and stress they were under within a world of austerity – we knew their opportunities of work were going to be different to our opportunities and we felt like how we supported them was everyone’s responsibility. Therefore One Million became the story of the growing number of young people who are unemployed.


It was important to put our money where our mouths were and build a performance that was inspired by and included young people’s stories. We worked with a number of partner organisations to creatively work with 140 young people and bring their input to our theme.


We held these workshops throughout the making process so what happened in the rehearsal room could inspire the work with young people and the work with young people could inspire the show. We were cooking all elements of the show at the same time. This was logistically challenging but gave the piece an authenticity, which was vital. 90 of these young people performed in the show, and it felt like they were the engine which was powering the whole performance.


We also worked hard to create ten paid internships for unemployed young people throughout the creative and technical teams. We made it a priority to create opportunities and to offer genuine development and career progression to young people. Several of those initial internships have evolved into fully paid roles with the company since.


One Million was partly about making the invisible visible – bringing the struggle of young people to centre stage.

With Push, we did the same with new mothers, exploring just how challenging parenting a baby in public can be when you are inevitably failing to live up to expectations.

Five women with buggies emerge from the audience to take the stage, and over 20 minutes celebrate triumphs and disasters. Despite being covered in projectile vomit by the end of the show, our characters find a solidarity in a collective and public admission of failure, and discover a joy that comes from acute vulnerability.


This creative interest in the act of caring, and the role of carers in our society led to us developing a season of three indoor shows this year around how we value care.


With 'Care', which was the final part of this season, we took some of the techniques we've developed outdoors back inside, completely reconfiguring Watford Palace Theatre auditorium.


We felt an urgent need to respond to the changes we were seeing in the NHS with the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act of 2012. Like ‘Inflation’, this was a hugely complicated stimulus. Most people, even those working within the NHS, are not able to understand the changes happening to it.


It's possibly even harder to understand when you are dangling upside-down from the ceiling, but we set ourselves the challenge of trying to interrogate and dramatise the impact of this legislation in a way that makes it possible to comprehend on a human level.


The piece attempted to depict an NHS that is becoming fragmented and tearing at the seams. Like the sick body of our central character, as it becomes weaker it becomes more susceptible to the private sector's attempts to subcontract services. We used some of the skills we had been using in our outdoor work - aerial performance, visual story telling and immersive atmosphere, casting the audience as patients in a system which is being broken apart.


As the characters were stretched to breaking point, suspended in the air and being pulled in various different directions, the audience were surrounded by the action.

The audience being within the space made it possible for them to feel the threat and not necessarily be told about it.


We want to make performances with space for questions not full of answers – Care didn’t offer any solutions or alternatives but allowed questions to be raised and gave us an opportunity to plant some big questions in audience minds about where the NHS may be headed and what that may feel like.


It’s not always easy creating political work when it’s devised. No one knows the outcome – not us, not the funder, not the presenting partner. People get nervous they can’t read a script or can’t see exactly of how it may look.


There was some nervousness about Inflation – particularly in areas where there was a Conservative run council. Some of the commissioners were worried about how the scene of David Cameron wielding a pair of scissors on the bouncy castle would impact on their council relationships.


When we made One Million, we had to reassure the Royal Borough of Greenwich that we weren't going to re-ignite the riots which had badly affected Woolwich town centre.


Care, also elicited some concern from the theatre about imagery of vultures surrounding the healthcare services. In a way these tensions help us know what the work is challenging and what buttons it is pressing.


Getting our work made relies on a small number of trusting relationships with people willing to make a leap with us. It's not easy to create an economy of scale with lots of booking fees to balance the making costs of the shows.


The work may stay politically relevant for a shorter time than work on more universal themes. Given the long making period that our work sometimes requires, this makes it challenging financially. I think we are all finding it harder to find secure investment in these straightened times.


Despite this we've set ourselves on a road of creatively exploring some of our global problems. Through 2016 and 17 we've got two projects bubbling away which address the intertwined concerns of climate change and global inequality. The first, Emergency, looks at the resultant mass migration and how we as communities respond to it. And the second, a collaboration with artist Alex Chinneck, will use giant twisted pylons to explore how we overcome our destructive and dependent relationship with energy.


Funding is under pressure, artists are under pressure, society is under pressure.


While it's getting harder, it's surely also never been more important

- to be bringing people together in public spaces,

- to be creatively investigating the enormous challenges of our times.

- to feel part of a group, to move and be moved together,

and to collectively renew hope and imagination in dark and difficult days. 


Thank you"


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