1 April 2020
In Spring term 2020 Wizard Theatre Company, led by director Leon Hamilton, took over the established and successful StopWatch Theatre production of Mark Wheeller’s play about Dan, ‘I Love You, Mum – I Promise I Won’t Die’, and brought it to over 10,000 teenagers, plus around a hundred parents, carers and professionals, at 73 performances across London and a little beyond, with the talented young cast - Amy Little, Richard Blackman, Iona Johnson and David Nation - and director and puppeteer Chris Dobson.
Sadly the tour had to be cut short when Covid-19 restrictions stopped public gatherings and closed schools, with the last performances taking place just over two weeks before the planned tour end date at the start of April. This was unavoidable but very disappointing, and meant around 4,000 teenagers were unable to experience this moving production.
Every year since the play began touring, schools and colleges have re-booked performances for the following year because the impact on students is so tangible. In addition to this, the strength of the reputation of this play and TIE production has continued to bring new settings to us booking performances, and the majority of those settings have gone on to access other elements of our drug education provision.
Feedback from the 2020 tour was gathered from a sample of 1,252 students in years 9-11. 88% reported that they knew more about the risks of drugs and 89% said they understood more about the impact of drug use on others. For the majority the main messages of the play was both the risks of drugs, and that our choices can have consequences, closely followed by ‘it could happen to anyone’. Overwhelmingly what was best about the play for these students was that it was a true story and used the real words of the people involved.
“The play was written and performed really well, for something concerning such a sensitive topic.”
“I absolutely love how the hoodie has no one in it. It just really symbolizes how anyone could have been in that position as Dan was.”
“Very emotional, creative and well executed.”
Feedback from schools was also very positive this year, as it has always been:
”Excellent feedback afterwards from both pupils and staff. Throughout the performances the students were attentive and engaged because the play ‘captured’ them.”
“The power of telling a real story – and telling it so well – really hits home. The workshop is also very ‘on point’ and well delivered.”
“Brilliant performances and delivered some difficult messages in a really skilled way.”
The actors also fed back about the impact of the play on the students, and the journey they could see their teenage audiences going on, from coming in somewhat sceptical about having to sit through a ‘drugs play’, to within moments of the opening being totally captivated, and by the end in silence and some in tears. They talked about how it opened up opportunities to have conversations students may not otherwise have been able to have, as David Nation wrote: “The most memorable moments for me are the ones where students who may otherwise not have had an outlet to talk about these issues are able to vocalise and voice them with us, either during the workshop or afterwards. It's a real gift to be able to share those moments with the students and hopefully give them the tools they need to make safe and informed decisions in the future.”
The actors also talked about the impact the play has on them. They said how rare it is, especially as young actors, to have the opportunity to be part of such a high quality TIE production of a play that is so well written, and not ‘just another TIE play’. Richard Blackman said, “I think overall my fave moment with the show itself is simply being granted access to this story – it’s a really important story to tell and one that Mark has done so brilliantly.”