After an epic journey from London we arrived in Newmarket (NE of London) to see Greenfingers perform their show “lost” to pmld audiences at the Newmarket Leisure Centre.
Regionally based outfit Greenfingers production specialise in creating work for pmld audiences. Usually they like to work one on one – that is 5 performers – 5 audience members – but principal artist Mike McManus was also reflecting on whether it would be possible to continue this ratio in the current straightened economic climate.
This show was held within an enclosed environment set which was cleverly created out of velcroing wall panels (apparently those used by police to isolate a crime scene). The roof was a large piece of silk. This made the show environment seemed cosy and contained. The show’s theme was about self discovery and the audience were invited to help the central character “lost” discover herself through Echoe, Shadow, and Reflection. Each show element had some fantastically catchy music that was easy to sing along with and interact. “Let’s play the echo game – Let’s play the echo game – clap clap clap – Let’s play the echo game – clap clap clap”. The children were encouraged to get up from their chairs (or be wheeled over as the case may be) and for example see their own shadow on the screen. At another point in the show – audiences were invited to bounce balls (with kinetically triggered lights inside them) inside the tent. At another point the audience were invited to bang on the Tin Buckets which were used to multi effect. The show also used live camera to zoom in on participants and project them onto the big screen as they were exploring different elements of the show. For example zooming in on participant A while she was creating patterns using a torch on luminescent board (nice effect that). Reflection involved physical mirroring and the use of mirrors which participants seemed to really get into. They also had a really nice mirror cave where audience members could enter and play with their reflection.
Mike was very generous after the show – happy to share all sorts of insights, information and reflections on his work with pmld audiences.
He talked about some software called Isadora which he said is often used in Dance work – but basically where a computer and camera can be programmed to produce different visual and audio effects responding to different visual, audio and kinaesthetic cues – Definitely something to explore.
A previous show about pirates and mermaids had used alot of UV light effects which he said worked to create magic – children had been given glowing eggs to take home (pearls) – Like the idea of the take home something.
They had created small round flexible screens which also worked to create the impressions of the children’s faces or hands when held over them. In this particular show they had 4 performers and a musician (who also operated the computer and camera) – and they had allowed for up to 14 participants.
Overall this show allowed for a lot of participation from the audience and this made it very dynamic. On the other hand it was not attempting to tell a complex story. I realise looking at Oily Cart also – that the development of the Jub Jub Tree was strongly influenced by the sensory storytelling tradition of Amber – and this was not necessarily the same arc as those companies exploring theatre for pmld kids.
It’s so great to have this opportunity to see other work for pmld audiences. This performance was not accompanied by preparation – or particular follow up resources. Mike said this was a matter of funding and money.