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Early Years Creative Theatre Research and Development
at the Lowry, Salford

18th to 21st September 2006

Over four days a team of performers and musicians led by Artistic Director Rachel Riggs, explored working with the circular/rotation schema and the physical properties of materials, objects and puppets in a process of simple play with an engaged imagination, similar to the ways that young children explore the world. DNA built and worked with two circular frames of different sizes to symbolise a ball pond, and explored their limitations and possibilities. We were aware a real ball pond would just confuse early years as they would want to jump in immediately and rightly so! So the suggestion was made to have a ball pond specifically for play in another area in a venue. They played with balls: rolling; spinning; falling; bouncing etc and adding percussion instruments. Getting dizzy was good. They filled an old purple furry babygrow with a hood with balls from the ball pond and put a larger ball into the hood area, zipping it up firmly, which made a very good puppet!
We really liked this idea of creating the puppet in front of their very eyes. The 'executive producer' toddlers who visited were initially fearful of 'the faceless one', the abstract puppet but quickly became very attached. They very much wanted to give him eyes and features. More investigation needs to be done with the target audience to see how much face Bobby needs to make him easy to relate to by the very young. The team worked with variations of movement with circles - hoops and balls, balls on sticks in the air, flowing cloth. It quickly became apparent that a choreographer will be needed as the movement of the performers and objects and figures are an important element. The performance is based around a ball pond with the audience sitting in the round creating an intimacy between performers and audience. We are still working on ideal size of audience for show, 40 children to 40 adults is the latest!

performers playing with hoops

DNA is intending to develop the project into a touring interactive performance event for the very young, with originally composed music which involves children between 2 and 5 years old and the accompanying adults. In March 2007, DNA will be conducting trial sessions and gathering feedback before a national tour to theatres and arts centres later in the year.
All text and images © Dynamic New Animation 2002