I have been lucky enough to take part in a number of ETO education workshops and performances over the last few years. One in particular that I have been humbled to be a part of is the work that I do with children with special educational needs.
For the last couple of years I have worked on a project called ‘Midnight Moon’ which is a performance based loosely on the chaos that ensues whilst Bottom meets upon the fairies led by Titania in the woods. It uses all the best bits of music from Britten’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and a few bits of ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ by Tobias Picker and even ‘The Magic Flute’. It’s devised wonderfully (by Tim Yealland) to be a multi-sensory performance with nice smells, bright costumes, cosmic lights and ‘touchy feely’ things.
A fantastic addition to the last outing of ‘Midnight Moon’ was a fox puppet which I wore attached to a coat with a prosthetic hand. There were some wonderfully mixed reactions to Mr Fox and it was heart warming to see some of the children at first frightened of him (believe me he was very realistic), eventually warm to him and even befriend him!
Abigail Kelly with ‘Mr Fox’ in Luxembourg
Last week, we were given the opportunity to take ‘Midnight Moon’ on the road to Luxembourg which brought with it new challenges. Firstly we performed to a wider range of age groups, from the children and teens that we usually perform for all the way up to pensioners. The piece transcended the age barriers and was loved by all. Secondly we performed it at least 3 sometimes 4 times a day which is a large jump from the once a week we usually do. (My stamina was very much tested that week!)
Finally, there was a slight language barrier as the people of Luxembourg speak Luxembourgish, so we had to learn a few words to help us get by during the performance. In fact by the end of our run, we’d encountered people who didn’t speak Luxembourgish within the audiences and so bits of German and French ended up in the mix too!
By the end of the week the feedback we had was heart warming. Everybody at the Philharmonie was so enthusiastic about the project and were desperate to have us back. Actually I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone at the Philharmonie for looking after us so well and keeping us in high spirits with plenty of coffee and cakes! It was sad to see the end of ‘Midnight Moon’. It almost felt like the climax of a couple of years work which kept growing and changing every time we performed it. Hopefully the Midnight Moon will rise again in the future!
Abigail Kelly, ETO Artist
Great experience, very, very positive for our students
We were fascinated by the successful combination of stimuli used to capture and keep the attention of our students. The producers of the play were very knowledgeable about the issue of autism. ‘Midnight Moon’ was a really great multi-sensory experience which provided enough variation to stay interesting for each of our students, without falling into the trap of stereotypes.
– from a participant