Sunday, 30 July 2017

Frozen Dramaturgy: Lucy Garland @ Edfringe 2017

Again Frozen Light deliver the only show at the Fringe specifically for audiences with PMLD. 

HOME immerses teenagers and adults with PMLD into a multi-sensory story of discovery. 

The company creates shows for this audience that perform them in theatre spaces (rather than homes, day centre’s etc) bringing many of the audience into a theatre for the very first time. 

Pleasance Courtyard, Beyond 21-28 Aug 10.30am (60 mins) 

What was the inspiration for this performance/show?

HOME is a show for audiences with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) so as always, we begin by thinking about what our audience will need from the performance to make it accessible to their needs.  

With HOME, our main inspiration for the piece came from post-apocalyptic sci-fi landscapes, I had been reading a lot of science fiction at the time and we were very influenced by my dad’s 70’s Sci-Fi art books.   This seemed like a landscape that would provide many multi-sensory opportunities and also provide an interesting starting point to create a story.  

In terms of story we are always trying to balance telling an exciting story with a strong emotional narrative whilst creating a multi-sensory experience that our audience can engage with.  With the refugee crisis and everything going on in the Middle East we really felt that we needed to tell a story about loss, separation and belonging.  

What we realized is that this is a universal story, everyone needs a sense of belonging and it seemed like an exciting story that our audience could engage with. 

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Absolutely! I think it is one of the best places for discussion of ideas.  I believe that the best place to learn and question things is when you are doing something that you enjoy.  I learn much more about other cultures and ideas by seeing a play or reading a book about them, rather than being lectured at.  In performance you can use character to explore complex ideas.  By using character those ideas become human and you can see that ideas and opinions are not always black and white, which I believe is a really important thing to understand and one that makes the world more tolerant.  

In terms of our work we are really passionate about performing in theatre venues so that our audience with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities have access to opportunities appropriate for their needs in their community and that by accessing the theatre in their local community they become more visible to the rest of society.  There is still huge ignorance and misunderstanding around learning disability and this stems from most people’s lack of experience of people with learning disabilities.  We will only begin to tackle this prejudice when people are aware that people with learning disabilities are people just like them but they just have additional and different needs.  We hope that by using performance and putting this work into theatres we can begin to start these conversations.

How did you first become interested in making performance?
I think I have always been interested in creating performance.  There is something so satisfying about having an idea and seeing it come to life on stage. The opportunity to tell peoples stories on stage is fascinating to me. 

In terms of making multi-sensory work for audiences with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) this really grabbed me during my Masters in Applied Performance at The University of Kent.  I had always wanted to perform/create performance but I felt that I also needed to make work that would create social change.  I had also worked with people with learning disabilities for a long time and this was another passion for me.  During the Masters year I realised I could combine the two and this was a revelation and something that I knew I had to continue.   

Is there any particular approach you took to the making of the show?

As explained in the first question we were very influenced by the environment.  This was deliberate.  When creating this show we wanted to start the process with the set designer in the devising room with us.  Due to our work being multi-sensory we really wanted to start with an environment that gave us the sensory opportunities we needed to explore.  We then let this environment guide the story and narrative.  

We wanted this show to feel immersive for our audience and the set, props, music, language needed to feel like part of a new world we had created on stage.  

We also took a slightly different approach to the music than we had before.  We wanted to create everything live and have no recorded music in the show.  We therefore invested in a loop pedal and this gave our musician numerous ways to create layered music live and explore different percussive sounds. 

Does the show fit with the style of your other productions?

In terms of it being multi-sensory and for teenagers and adults with PMLD then yes it does fit with the style of our other productions.  Like all our other shows HOME includes live music and a strong emotional narrative.  

I feel like HOME was a step up for Frozen Light in terms of production values and design and this really helped push our performance further than we have before.  

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

For many of our audiences this will be the first time they have ever been to the theatre.  During our first tour 41% of our audience with learning disabilities had never been to the theatre before (and most of our audience were over the age of 13).  

We want to create a safe space where our audience can experience a piece of theatre that is appropriate for their needs in a theatre building (because theatres are magical places).  We also aim to challenge pre-conceptions of how people should behave in a theatre and let our audience dictate how we as performers behave to accommodate their needs.  We create a space where our audience are not asked to “fit in” but where we try to enter their worlds and accommodate their needs. 

We want them to experience everything theatre has to offer from the standard light and sounds to one to one interactions with characters and performers. Live theatre is so powerful and we can utilize everything the liveness has to offer when creating theatre for audiences with complex needs. 

Frozen Light (UK) presentHOMERare Fringe show specifically created for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities
Following their sell-out 2016 Fringe debut with The Forest, Frozen Light return with Home, their latest bold and exciting production, devised specifically for audiences with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD).

Exploring a new and unknown world, Home immerses audiences with PMLD in a multi-sensory story of discovery. Frozen Light devised this accessible and inclusive production especially for teenagers and adults with PMLD. For many in the audience this will be their first time in a theatre venue.
 ‘The palpable joy of the audience, many witnessing live performance in a theatre environment for the first
 time is a wonder to behold.’ Sarah Holmes, Chief Executive, New Wolsey Theatre.
The play follows Scarlet and Olive in a world that is not how they remember it. Where are they now and where is their home? The pair must learn how to survive and create a future together in an environment that is full of surprises. Will the stars shine on this unexpected friendship? And how will they face the challenges that lie ahead?

Performing to up to 12 people - six people with disabilities, each supported by a companion - the three-strong cast greets the audience at the entrance, gently leading them into the performance space, ensuring a smooth transition into the theatre environment. Inside, one-to-one interactions between cast and audience include singing directly to each audience member and providing props to be touched. The production incorporates live music specifically composed to highlight the emotional narrative and multi-sensory elements of the story.

Home has been selected as part of The British Council Showcase 2017.

Frozen Light launched in 2013 as a response to the fact that arts venues rarely cater for audiences with complex disabilities. Those with PMLD have more than one disability. 

The most significant is a profound learning disability and all people who have PMLD will have great difficulty communicating. Many have additional sensory or physical disabilities, complex health needs or mental health difficulties.

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard, Beyond (Venue 23)
Dates: 21-28 Aug
Time: 10.30am (60 mins)
Tickets: £12.50 (for audience member and companion)
Venue Box Office: 0131 556 6550

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