Having spent such a long time deliberating over initial ideas for TRIBE, our new show for young autistic audiences, the excitement levels were high and mighty when the time came to undertake the project's first week of creative development. After an early Monday start (seriously, way too early) we were checked in, buckled up and off to England!
Joining me, for the week-long residency at Prior's Court School in Thatcham (near Reading), were three talented performers and trusted Replay regulars, Gary Crossan, Catriona McFeely and Emer McDaid. Gary and Catriona are experienced sensory performers, having worked with Replay on inclusive productions such as Snoozle & The Lullabugs, Bliss and Closer (re-touring this November!). Emer, while being a new addition to our ever-growing catalogue of inclusive sensory performers, played a prominent role in Dancing at the Disco at the End of the World, our 2017 production for post-primary audiences.
Prior's Court is a specialist residential school, with facilities and staff that are dedicated to 'supporting the complex needs of young people with severe autism' (https://www.priorscourt.org.uk/what-we-do). It is a wonderfully inspiring environment to visit, and the perfect place for an inclusive children's theatre company to spend a week of Creative Consultation while developing a show for young autistic audiences!
Our week at Prior's Court was a perfect blend of observing the skills and practice of staff members, gaining knowledge, getting to know many brilliant pupils and discovering new engagement methods, all finished off with a generous sprinkling of creativity. As with any Creative Consultation process we undertake here at Replay, the final touring production is directly influenced by the learning gained, ideas developed and discoveries made during these development weeks, while working directly with the intended audience of each individual show.
Accompanying us during our visit, was the fabulous steel-tongue drum that will form the musical spine of TRIBE. RAV Vast, the creators of the atmospheric instrument and partners on the project, have been almost as excited as us to discover how the drum can be used as an inclusive sensory engagement tool (see previous blog for more info on the drum and how we're using it). The good news is, the early signs are very positive indeed! The originality of the look, feel and tone of the drum provides excellent sensory stimulus, allowing our creative team the opportunity to introduce new intriguing and innovative storytelling techniques into TRIBE.
After a valuable first development, I now have time to reflect on the discoveries made and concepts created. Next, TRIBE will undertake further development in early 2019, with the full production touring later that year.
Really looking forward to continuing this adventure...
Inclusion Lead Artist
Replay Theatre Company