This term is a hugely busy one for myself. As well as working two jobs I am preparing to go to Cornwall to do inclusive and multi-sensory drama in a special educational needs school. Having a week-long residency is an absolute treat for a theatre company: and possibly even more so for the kids – a whole week of no maths, no grammar and no PE! But when given this task (after a few celebratory ciders) it suddenly dawned on us: we had absolutely no idea what to do. We had free reign of themes and activities: and the limitless possibilities were far too daunting to be able to focus. And the fact that none of had worked with participants with Multiple and Profound Learning difficulties before.
Oily cart was founded 30 years ago as an under-5’s theatre company. Artistic director Tim Webb was kind enough to let myself and my theatre company come and have a chat, as they now specialise in multi-sensory theatre for participants with special educational needs. We went in asking ‘what can we do?’ and we came out saying ‘what should we do?!’. Oily cart have done shows in swimming pools, on trampolines and 3 metres up in the air. They showed us the power of song, simple repetition and a lot of glitter. The main message they conveyed was that – if you think it, you can do it. They have never seen a wheelchair or a non-verbal participant as a barrier – only as an opportunity to take a creative risk. All of this just made me feel warm inside – being told that something as simple as putting a small grin on a participants face could be a huge achievement in that participants life. But that’s why applied theatre and drama exists – to put smiles on faces. Yes, doing it for special educational needs participants does require a bit more energy, and a lot more feathers, repetition and creativity, but what we discovered is that it will have so much more of an impact, making all the effort worth it.
So thank you Oily Cart, for giving us a large spoonful of confidence and excitement for our project!