People like Us by Judith Johnson - Synopsis

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Judith Johnson Playwright Autumn 2016

GEMMA is a 16 year old high achieving GCSE student. She usually does extremely well at school but unfortunately, since her Mum was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, she has found that she has less and less time to give to her studies because she has to help her Mum (ZOE) a lot more. ZOE is in her 40s, an artist and now ex teacher (she has had to give up work because of her condition). She finds life much more difficult since her MS has developed and is particularly frustrated that she can’t support and care for GEMMA like she used to. At school, staff haven’t picked up that GEMMA is experiencing difficulties, so she struggles on, but then she meets TYLER in an after-school detention.


TYLER, also 16, has been a Carer for his family since he was young but has only been identified at school in year 8 at age 13. TYLER has struggled at school for years, but is now receiving some support and has been helped a lot by a Young Carers Group (run by a local charity outside of school.) TYLER’s brother ZEB, age 18, has Asperger’s. TYLER helps ZEB with anxiety issues and personal organisation skills, as well as helping his Mum (who is in a wheelchair) and his Dad (who has bi-polar). ZEB is a keen fan of Electronic Dance Music and has a following on youTube under the name ZEB the legend. TYLER has begun to write and perform poetry, sometimes to a backing provided by ZEB.


TYLER is known as being a bit of an outsider, so him and top of the class GEMMA do not usually have much to do with each other, but he recognises some signs that GEMMA might be a young carer and decides to take her under his wing. GEMMA offers to help TYLER with his Maths homework, and soon a relationship begins to develop . . .


Characters

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Gemma
Isobel Clarke
Tyler
Louis Krommenhoek
Zoe
Hannah Emanuel
Zeb
Cian Binchey

Age 16. Gemma is bright, compassionate, smart. She is in the last stages of studying for her GCSEs and lives with her Mum, Zoe, who has recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Gemma is expected to score highly in her GCSEs. Her friendship group consists mainly of other high achieving teenagers and she is popular in this group, particularly because she is sharp and witty.

Age 16. Tyler is positive, charming and cheeky, but with a sarcastic wit. Tyler goes to the same school as Gemma but he is not part of her social group. In fact, he is not really part of any social group, he tends to float from one to the other. He is generally liked, but many of the other kids are wary of his sharp tongue and alternative image. Tyler tends to flout rules whenever he can, customises his school uniform, dyes his hair and has some tattoos and/or piercings (for casting reasons, these are probably hidden!) Tyler is a Carer for four members of his family. His Dad, Mum, and two brothers


Age 18. Tyler’s brother. Zeb has Asperger’s syndrome. He attends the local sixth form college and is studying Music Technology. He loves electronic dance music (eg Caribou) and spends a lot of time composing and making his own. Zeb and Tyler have a special connection; Tyler is very good at calming Zeb down when he has the panic attacks which he sometimes experiences.




Early forties, Gemma’s Mum. Zoe is creative, quirky, sociable. Now officially diagnosed with MS, Zoe has been experiencing symptoms for some time. Zoe was a secondary school Art teacher before giving up due to her condition; she still practices her own Art (painting). She is a single mother and now has trouble making ends meet.

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