People Like Us

Written by Judith Johnson / Produced by Theatre of Debate


‘People Like Us’ tells the story of Tyler and Gemma. Both are 16, but apart from detention seem to have little in common. Until Tyler finds out Gemma is a young carer, just like him…

TYLER: “People don’t believe me when I tell them who I look after. I’m 16. I’m a boy. I look a bit different. But, you know, it takes all sorts. And there’s definitely all sorts in my family.”

Judith Johnson’s powerful, fast-moving, humorous and timely contemporary drama, was specially commissioned by Theatre of Debate and developed in collaboration with Action for Carers, Surrey.


Focus: What is a young carer, Living with a long term illness, the impact of long term illnesses on families, health and well being

Audience: Young people (14 plus) and adults

Length: 59 minutes

Full Film: Available through Theatre of Debate, with subtitles by Stagetext

Resources: Available for teachers and students, science communicators and health workers


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…

Character Posters