At Head2Head Sensory Theatre, we create multi-sensory, interactive and accessible theatre for young people with special and additional needs, from curriculum-based installations, to our 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 are very proud to hold Makaton Friendly status.
Sadly we are still unable to tour our latest holiday production, Piccolo Pinocchio, due to Covid-19, but I’m pleased to say we have filmed the show instead. In addition, we were joined by Lauren, a young actor with SEND who worked alongside us in her first professional role. More about Lauren later.
The last 6 months
So what have we been up to since my last blog? Just to remind you, without being able to perform live, we needed to produce digital work.
It began with filming our family holiday show in Easter 2020, Come Trot to Camelot, and then moving on to Zoom shows – the first of which was delivered from my front room!
In November, we filmed our pantomime, Cinderella, which was accompanied by pre-film Zoom workshops during December to both schools and families. In these workshops we practised signed songs, sensory moments in the panto and the final disco dance number.
Needless to say, live events via technology brought many interesting challenges. One day, I delivered panto workshops to a school where they had no cameras or mics: all I could see on my laptop was my own face and 7 empty screens on mute! A little disconcerting, but they talked with me via the ‘chat’ facility and I was assured they not only learned the Makaton signs I was demonstrating, but they also joined in with everything and had a fantastic time. It was good to know they hadn’t just nipped out for a quick cup of tea!
Green is the new screen!
When we went into lock-down again in January, I needed to write another Zoom show super-quick that could be delivered by an actor from their own home to our families’ homes. However, I felt that a step-up in technology was required. Green-screen! I had never worked with this medium before and there were several frustrated returns to the drawing board!
Once I had the technology sorted, Blackbeard’s Revenge was ready to roll. Our pirating adventure was made all the more fun with the addition of young actor-volunteers with SEND making an appearance. The Zoom show had two characters and Frankie was played by one of our actor-volunteers. Over the run of the show, we had three Frankies join us: Daniel, Dean and Harry.
Harry with his friend who helped out
in the Awesome Pawsome Pal song!
“I enjoy the story and my big role. The script was funny jokes. It was nice have an audience each show. The finale make the children smile. Each show make me proud of my day.” Harry Phillips (Actor-Volunteer)
All three actor-volunteers were awesome too! It was great to see them using Makaton signing and encouraging the participants to join in. They were fantastic Makaton role models!
And so to our current show – Piccolo Pinocchio. As lockdown had eased and we were able to get together to film, we decided to look for a young actor with SEND to play a professional role. Working in conjunction with the Orpheus Centre based in Godstone, Surrey, we Zoom-auditioned loads of young actors for the role of J Crick the Cricket. They were all so brilliant, so it was hard to make a choice! However, we were delighted to offer the role to Lauren.
Lauren as J Crick the Cricket
All our rehearsals with Lauren were via Zoom or by film: she learned the closing dance number purely by watching a filmed demonstration – brilliant! Lauren was already proficient at Makaton and she introduced even more signing to her character than we had anticipated. During her day filming on set, we had to work at quite a pace to get everything covered and Lauren took it all in her stride. And the hard work put into the dance rehearsals certainly paid off.
“I enjoyed the carnival dance because it was so much fun to do and also because I did it with the other actors.” Lauren Masser (Actor)
Lauren was a real star! And I’m pleased to say we have another star in our film Piccolo Pinocchio, albeit just their voice! We were very fortunate to have been provided with the vocal skills of Phil “Mister Maker” Gallagher in the role of the whale.
You can see from above that our artist, Arin Smethurst, has given a little bit of Mister Maker hair-flair to the character of the whale!
"I am so pleased and proud to be a small part of Piccolo Pinocchio. It is a pleasure to support Head2Head Sensory Theatre and I wish all the team, cast and creatives my very best wishes. I can't wait to see the finished film!" Phil Gallagher (from "Mister Maker")
And there’s more
As introduced with the pantomime, we also have live Zoom workshops for schools and families to accompany Piccolo Pinocchio.
“Classes really got into the spirit and were cheering at the end. Thank you so much!”
Heltwate School, Peterborough
And, of course, there’s an accompanying advance pack. Here we give a list of bits and bobs to gather together or make (like pizza dough!) beforehand for a truly multi-sensory and interactive experience. There are also Widgit symbols for the storyline and song lyrics, as well as some arts/crafts and games activities. There’s even a role to be played at home – the Indigo Elf! They have their own magic move – the Indigo Flow! Once you have made your purchase via our website, you will also have access to the Piccolo Pinocchio playlist on our YouTube channel. Amongst the videos, you can learn the Indigo Flow and Carnival dance from Erica, who plays Pinocchio.
If you’re looking for something to do during the summer holidays, then Piccolo Pinocchio could be the film for you. Please visit our What’s On page to find out more https://www.h2hsensorytheatre.com/whats-on-2021
And I’m delighted to say that we will be performing live again with a little show! Beachcombers & Mudlarking is going out as part of our ‘Awesome August’ season. Please check out our What’s On page as above for information on venues. Beachcombers & Mudlarking is an adaptation of that very first Zoom show delivered from my front room, so this is a rather lovely and fitting way to return to the work we so love to do. Hope to see you there!
If you are new to Head2Head Sensory Theatre, then please follow us on social media – Facebook/Twitter/Instagram @h2htheatre – to see what we’re up to.