Written by Caroline Bowditch
For the last few years I have become aware of the demand for interesting work for young audiences. I have also realised that very little, if any, work being made for young audiences includes visibly disabled performers. In an attempt to address some of these issues, my collaborators and I have made two new works, The Adventures of Snigel and Snigel and Friends.
The Adventures of Snigel is a promenade piece commissioned by the Northern Festivals Network and Unlimited where I am transformed into a massive snail with my motorised wheelchair being covered in a snail shell. I move through crowds at festivals and events blowing bubbles, having a picnic, and even doing some funky dances. The idea of being a snail had emerged from the fact that in my chair I glide, I don’t have a footfall, so it seemed like a natural connection. I proposed this idea to my co-creator and designer, Laura Hook, and she was up for the challenge. We went on to join up with musician Zac Scott to create The Adventures of Snigel which recently previewed at the opening weekend of the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival. Snigel will also be adventuring through a number of festivals and events this summer including The Peekaboo Garden at Just So Festival from 18th August and Head For The Hills – Ramsbottom Festival from 15th September.
Snigel and Friends is a static theatre piece for under 1 year olds and invites audience members to join us in a magical undergrowth were we play, sing songs and do dances. It’s a colourful and interactive show that has been well received by the audiences that have experienced it. We will be taking this show to Edinburgh Fringe Festival as part of the Made in Scotland programme.
Over the next year I will also be working with Imaginate on a project called ‘Weren’t you expecting me’ taking a closer look at the impact, if any, that this may have on the live performance experience that disabled and non-disabled children have, particularly looking at the effect on aspirations, self-esteem and overall perceptions of disability. I will also be talking to the industry and performance makers about their experiences, choices and identifying areas for future growth and change. You can read more about the project here: http://www.imaginate.org.uk/artists/projects/expecting-me/
Children’s Theatre Reviews exists to help plug the gap in criticism and writing about theatre for young audiences. It is run entirely voluntarily, and needs support to continue covering and supporting the sector. For more information and to help give children’s theatre the voice it deserves, please visit our Patreon page.