By Cassie Raine - Co-CEO & Executive Director of Parents and Carers in Performing Arts for #CarersWeek  
Images: Lanre Malaolu "Now, I See" 


I had the pleasure of attending "Now, I See" by Lanre Malaolu at Theatre Royal Stratford East.  
This phenomenal play delves deep into the themes of love, joy, grief and family as the narrative unfolds between three brothers Adeyeye, Dayo and Kieron. 

 It wasn’t until the final 30 minutes, during a heart-searing monologue by Dayo, the younger brother, that I realised Now, I See is also a story that confronts the reality of being an unpaid carer.  



Exploring the Internal Conflict of Carers 

In one poignant moment, Dayo articulates the internal conflict faced by many carers:  

when you got worse, I hated it! Hated that I couldn’t look you in the eye and smile anymore! Laugh any more. I know you didn’t choose that life! I know I won the lottery, But the life chosen for you, made me lose options for mine and… a small part of me despised you for that. And that small part of me that despised you, made me despise all of me.’  



The Challenge of Identifying as a Carer 

Dayo does not identify as a carer and never once refers to himself as one. Caring for a sick family member is for many just part of life. It's natural to support and care for the people you love. Many people do not immediately identify as carers; it can take years of performing these duties before they see themselves as such.  
Through workshops at PiPA, we’ve seen the penny drop, the moment someone realises they are a carer, for the first time, after years of looking after their siblings or their elderly father for example.   

I think the reluctance to name yourself a carer, and access support comes from the almost 'PR problem' that the carer label has under the Government system.  
Anyone giving care will have likely looked up Carers Allowanceon and will know you have to provide at least 35 hours of care a week to receive the grand total of £81.90 a week - so early on, you never consider yourself as official 'carer' - just someone 'helping out' and that this is to be 'fitted in' in your working life. 

Hidden Carers in the Performing Arts


‘Now, I See’ reminded me of the first piece of research we did at PiPA in 2016. It identified a small but important part of the workforce we called "hidden carers" within the performing arts sector—individuals with responsibilities for elderly, sick, or disabled loved ones. We called them hidden carers because they were the most likely to miss work regularly and completely drop out of the workforce without explanation.  

Fast forward to 2024, our latest survey sampled over 1,250 people in the performing arts, with only 44 identifying as having care responsibilities. This raises critical questions:  
Are carers underrepresented, are they still hidden, or do they not identify themselves as carers? 


The Growing Need for Carer Support 

As we look ahead, the need for support for carers in the performing arts becomes increasingly urgent. One in seven people in the workplace in the UK are juggling work and care and this figure is set to rise. This role often comes unexpectedly and can be devastating without adequate support, understanding, and awareness. 


Progress and the Path Forward 


April 2024 marks a step in the right direction with the introduction of five days of unpaid carers leave, but this is just the beginning.
Five unpaid days per year doesn’t begin to address the depth of the challenge. Employers can do much more. Many of our partners are already doing great work in this area, and at PiPA, we are committed to shining a light on this vulnerable and crucial part of our workforce. 

One thing that the act does do is specify that: The dependant does not have to be a family member. It can be anyone who relies on you for care. This is a useful distinction – as perhaps we assume care only extends to family members. Under this act, carer’s leave applies to anyone – a neighbour, a friend. It broadens the scope of who we might care for. It is good to see this recognised.  


A Call to Action 


"Now I See" is a magnificent tour de force, where Lanre Malaolu brings together cast and creatives to offer this poignant portrayal of brotherly love and deepen our understanding of what it means to be a carer 

Only when we value both care and art in our society can we aspire to the depths of understanding that Lanre Malaolu brings together on the stage.  
Let's work together to make the performing arts a family-friendly, supportive industry.  
By ensuring that freelancers and employees are valued and supported through every stage of their life and career, we can create a more inclusive and compassionate workplace. 


Join the Conversation 

If you have a story about being a carer in the performing arts, please do share it with PiPA.  
Together, we can support and celebrate the carers among us, ensuring they receive the recognition and support they deserve. 


If you are an employer and would like to learn more about how we can support you to support and retain your carer workforce through innovative, and often cost-neutral solutions, please get in touch with our relationship and development manager 


In the meantime, thank you Lanre Malaolu cast, creatives and crew for bringing this gut-wrenchingly beautiful, vital and life-affirming story to life.  

Hopefully Now, I See will transfer and/ or tour and get the global audience it deserves, I urge you to go and see it if you have the chance. You can also read Afridiziak’s review and brilliant interview with Lanre Malaolu.