The Unexpected Gift – A co-production with Capital Theatres /

The Unexpected Gift

Performing at Capital Theatres The Studio January 2023

This January we’re delighted to premiere our new sensory show, The Unexpected Gift.

The Unexpected Gift celebrates the art of play and curiosity, taking ordinary objects and making them extraordinary and magical. Bursting with energy, acrobatic dance, textures, sounds and colour to create a multi-sensory wonderland from the left-over boxes, ribbons and wrapping.

This highly interactive and inclusive dance-theatre performance is made especially for and with children with complex needs such as autism ages 7-14 years. Playfulness within the work creates space for live response between the audience and performers, with its adaptable approach allowing the individuality of each child to be celebrated.

The Unexpected Gift is designed for a small audience to be able to accommodate and engage young people who experience the most barriers to access.

Artistic Director, Natasha Gilmore chats more about the new show and it’s creation:

“We have made two distinct productions: ‘The Gift’ for children 18 months to 5 years and their families has been performing at Capital Theatres Studio, Edinburgh throughout the holidays and is running up until 4th January 2023. In addition to this we’ve also created a separate show to be performed in January called ‘The Unexpected Gift’ which is a sensory show for children with complex needs aged 7-14 years.

We’re hugely aware of the need for greater arts provision for children with complex needs and particularly for experiences that families can enjoy together. We wished to address the significant barriers to attending theatre events, aiming to make work for children with the most complex needs. We therefore thrilled to have adapted our show The Gift in collaboration with Capital Theatres.

The first sensory theatre piece I made for young people with complex needs was an adaptation of our internationally successful show Tiger Tale, supported through funding from Paul Hamyln Foundation. The resulting show Playful Tiger has received international acclaim and it was through this show, and the feedback from audiences, that we really saw the impact and need for this type of work.

When creating The Unexpected Gift, we ensured access and inclusivity was at the heart of the work. We initially collaborated with pupils from Isobel Mair school who cater for young people with a variety of additional needs; seeing what was interesting to them and giving them creative agency in the creation of the work.

Our performers are highly trained to work with young people with complex needs and are able to engage and interact with each young person during the show, with the children taking the lead. We also ensure that both audience members and venues are fully prepared for our show in advance of their visit; we provide visual stories that families can read together, audience packs providing further information on the venue including its layout and accessibility information, and provide venues with advice on how best to fully welcome audiences to their venue. We want their visit to the theatre, sometimes a first for many children, to be fully supported.”

We look forward to welcoming schools and families along to The Unexpected Gift performing at Capital Theatres, Edinburgh from the 9th-13th January 2023.

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