At Head2Head Sensory Theatre, we create multi-sensory, interactive and accessible theatre for young people with SEND; from curriculum-based installations, to our own take on well-known stories and traditional family pantomimes.
All our shows use Makaton signing, not just for songs but to support dialogue too. We have found Makaton invaluable in communicating with our audience and we were very proud to receive Makaton Friendly status in 2019. Needless to say, Covid-19 has sadly put a stop to live performances for the moment, yet opened up an exciting virtual world instead.
Last March, we were remotely rehearsing our family holiday show, Come Trot to Camelot: singing and Makaton signing over Zoom is hilariously tricky! With full lockdown, and not wishing to disappoint our families, especially given the little accessible theatre provision for children with SEND anyway, I did a quick re-write of the show. This was then filmed in our family back garden with just me and my daughter performing, and my husband roped in as cameraman. The neighbours must have wondered what we were up to with a castle drawbridge on our decking!
Even virtually, we maintained Head2Head’s multi-sensory and interactive style by supplying an advance pack with all the bits and bobs needed for joining in with the video. We encouraged viewers to joust, become Will-o’-the-Wisps, collect jewels, mend the round table, be knighted, dance around a maypole and, of course, Makaton sign.
Come Trot to Camelot had a great reception as you will see from Merlin the Magician, at home.
“What a fabulous way to spend the morning. My son, who has special needs, beamed from start to finish and made a fabulous Merlin.”
This was particularly gratifying as I always write a character into our family holiday shows for a young actor with SEND to perform alongside us. Merlin was to have been this character so to see that the virtual transition worked for this young man was fantastic.
So what next? Zoom shows!
Over the summer, we produced three separate multi-sensory shows, again all Makaton signed and with accompanying advance packs to help families prepare. For instance, in Beachcombers & Mudlarking there was mucking about in cereal-sand and chocolate-mud; in Toad’s Totally Awesome Adventure discovering slimy pondweed; and in Hatter’s Hectic Tea Dance buttering yummy scones.
“The session you ran was superb in many ways; it was fun, it really held attention, it was organised both in terms of helping us prepare for the session and also in delivering the session, and above all it was inclusive at all levels. A great success and a refreshing change that was really appreciated at this time.”
These Zoom events came under the umbrella Snacks & Chats, as following the show we had a catch-up with the families. We were aware that many had been shielding for lengthy periods due to their children’s vulnerability. Being conscious of mental wellbeing, it was lovely to offer a space for the families to check-in with each other and share experiences.
And we wouldn’t be Head2Head unless we produced a pantomime - Cinderella! This video was not only accompanied by an advance pack but also Zoom sessions with a panto character running a fun workshop for schools and families to prepare for their pantomime. Here the children rehearsed their own panto characters, learned Makaton signing for the ‘Gungy Gunky Giggles’ song, and joined in with a bit of disco dancing too!
“Listening to Owen laughing out loud while watching Head2Head Sensory Theatre’s interactive pantomime ‘Cinderella’, while surrounded with homemade props, is just magical.”
And we finished off the year with some 0-4 year-old Seasonal Sensory Singsong Zoom sessions exploring everything Christmassy!
Well, we have a Zoom sleuthing mystery Stevie Solvesit and the Case of the Stolen Car coming up on 9th, 10th, 16th & 17th January. And we’re very excited to announce that one of our super actor-volunteers with SEND is going to be joining us online to play Stevie’s sidekick, Bertie Bravesit. Do get in touch to book a place: www.h2hsensorytheatre.com/shop/
Although live, multi-sensory, and immersive work is what Head2Head Sensory Theatre is all about, we’ve evolved! And we continue to evolve digitally, looking into green-screens and GoPro cameras to help our signature style jump through your screens. The silver-lining in these difficult times is that we shall continue to film our productions, even after we have returned to live performances. These videos can reach a far wider audience than from touring alone so even more children with SEND will have the chance to enjoy the world of stories, make-believe and fun.
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