MEET THE TEAM
Clare has over 16 years experience within the professional creative industries. She opened her first business, White Tiger Creative Studios as a freelance film producer and graphic designer in 2001, aged just 18 years old.
After training as a runner then as an assistant editor in London, she returned to Devon where she worked as a youth support worker alongside her production studio role, quickly merging the two careers to become well known for her creative production programmes for young people.
In 2008, Clare finally decided to embark on her degree, achieving first class honors in her BA (Hons) Drama & Community Practice from UCP Marjons (accredited to Exeter University) in 2010, and working as a project manager and assistant theatre practitioner throughout this period for Plymouth's Barbican Theatre, where she combined her youth work and theatre skills in their creative learning programmes. Clare still freelances for the Barbican Theatre, who have been incredibly supportive of her throughout her transition from health to living with an invisible illness.
In 2009 Clare supported local theatre director Kev Johnson as he set up Symbiotic Dance Theatre, initially as a graphic designer and film maker producing the company's PR, this role quickly grew into that of company manager and Clare remained a director of the fledgling theatre company until 2013, when her health declined and she stepped down so the company would not be negatively affected by it.
Clare is incredibly thankful to have been such an integral part of Symbiotic's first 4 years, and very proud of the community programme 'Don't Mention The Gorilla!' that she and the team there developed. These years allowed Clare to learn a lot about the running of theatre company's, touring, funding and delivering community work and working with people who have lived experience of mental ill health. She enjoys seeing the company continue to flourish now, and continues to be inspired by the people she worked with on these projects.
12th July 2010 was the day Clare's life unexpectedly changed forever. A car accident on the day she collected her dissertation results left her with a twisted/dislocated pelvis and severe nerve damage in her right leg, stripping away her ability to stand, walk or work on her feet without significant pain and risk of causing further damage. She was forced to retire - aged just 28 years old - from a successful and rewarding career in the creative industries, just weeks after graduating from university and opening up a whole new sector in her practices. Everything changed.
"It has been a long and painful road to 'recovery'...After the injuries from the car accident failed to heal as expected, I was eventually diagnosed - after 3 years of not being believed or taken seriously by doctors - with a complex, multi-systemic nuero-immune condition called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E), which is believed to have been triggered by the impact of the accident and the trauma it caused to my spine and sciatic nerve.
M.E affects my life in every imaginable way, and it has taken 7 years in total for me to learn how to adapt to live a positive life with so many facets of my self and a big part of my life effectively being stolen away by illness. I'm still learning, and I don't think that learning will ever end. I survived because I found ways to keep myself sane while I was stuck unable to move in bed or on my sofa, housebound, isolated and feeling 'left behind' as all my friends launched their careers, moved away and moved on. I was happy for them, of course, but devastated for myself.
I found comfort in the many creative coping strategies I employed to preserve my mind; writing, making puppets and creating theatre in any way I could so that I did not lose my skills. I launched Broken Puppet Theatre after realising that I was not alone in my struggles, and that the creative outlets I had found could be of greater benefit to many more people if they had a way of accessing them."
Clare 'Jay' McCarthy
FOUNDER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR