1st Edition

Sensory Theatre How to Make Interactive, Inclusive, Immersive Theatre for Diverse Audiences by a Founder of Oily Cart

By Tim Webb Copyright 2023
    278 Pages 34 Color & 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    278 Pages 34 Color & 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    278 Pages 34 Color & 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Sensory Theatre: How to Make Interactive, Inclusive, Immersive Theatre for Diverse Audiences by a Founder of Oily Cart is an accessible step-by-step guide to creating theatre for inclusive audiences, such as young people on the autism spectrum or affected by other neuro-divergent conditions and children under two.

    Conventional theatre relies on seeing and hearing to involve its audience; sensory theatre harnesses the power of five or more senses to address its participants who have different ways of relating to the world around them. This book is an insightful history of Oily Cart and its pioneering development of work for the very young, including Baby Theatre, and for neuro-divergent audiences including those on the autism spectrum. It gives a clear introduction to the fundamental concepts of this theatre, suggests a host of practical techniques drawn from over forty years of experience, and describes some of Oily Cart’s most radical innovations, including theatre on trampolines, in hydrotherapy pools, and with flying audiences in the company of aerial artists. The book also includes copious photos from the Oily Cart’s archives and links to videos examples of the company’s work. Readers will learn how to:

    • Research the intended audience while not being led astray by labels.
    • Create a welcoming, immersive sensory space in classrooms, nurseries, school halls, and playgrounds.
    • Devise sensory stories that can be adapted to suit different audiences.
    • Recruit, audition, cast, and run rehearsals.
    • Ensure that the production is truly sensory and interactive.

    Written for Theatre for Young Audiences, Drama in Education, and specialized Applied Theatre courses, as well as educators and theatre practitioners interested in creating inclusive, interactive productions, Sensory Theatre offers a goldmine of ideas for making work that connects with audiences who can be the hardest to reach.

    Part 1: The development of Sensory Theatre  1. Sensory Theatre: the beginnings  2. Theatre for two to five year olds  3. All sorts of shows for all sorts of kid  4. How long is a piece of theatre?  5. Close up on PMLD  6. Truly immersive – theatre in hydropools  7. Magic Carpet Ride  8. From PMLD to Autism Spectrum  9. Sensory Theatre for the Very Early Years  Part 2: Specific Aspects of Sensory Theatre  10. Sensory Theatre audiences  11. Sensory Theatre is Multisensory  12. The Senses One by One – The Sense of Seeing  13. The Senses One by One – The Sense of Hearing  14. The Senses One by One – The Sense of Touch  15. The Senses One by One – The Sense of Smell  16. The Senses One by One – The Sense of Taste  17. The Senses One by One – The Kinaesthetic Sense  18. The Senses One by One – The Sense of Hot and Cold  19. The Sensory Audit  20. Sensory Theatre is close-up and interactive  21. Wonderlands – Design in Sensory Theatre  22. Staging A Show – Stranden  23. Venues – open and closed  24. Music that is felt as much as heard  25. The problem with narrative  26. The performers in Sensory Theatre  27. Puppets and pixels  28. Auditions  29. Rehearsals and rehearsal space  30. Shows that start before they begin  Part 3: The growth of Sensory Theatre  31. Canada – Carousel Players  32. USA – Chicago Children’s Theatre  33. UK – Bamboozle  34. Ireland – Helium  35. Japan – Hospital Theatre Project  36. Australia – Sensorium Theatre  37. Russia – Four Winds Project  38. UK – Frozen Light  39. USA – Trusty Sidekick and Lincoln Centre  40. Sweden – Scen:se Project  41. Wales – National Theatre of Wales and Oily Cart  42. What next for Oily Cart? Ellie Griffiths, Artistic Director, Oily Cart  43. Sensory Theatre in a time of Covid  Part 4: Extras  Appendix 1. Books That I Have Found Especially Useful  Appendix 2. Shows written/directed by Tim Webb  Appendix 3. How philosophy and theatre can help us value profoundly disabled people Appendix  4. Links to Oily Cart Show Videos on YouTube


    Tim Webb is one of the three co-founders of the Oily Cart theatre company producing inclusive shows for young people of all ages and abilities. He was the Artistic Director and chief writer of the company from 1981 to his retirement in 2018. During this time, he led a team that created more than 85 productions for young people including those labelled as having Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities or other complex disabilities. An honorary fellow of Rose Bruford College, he has taught and directed sensory, immersive, and interactive theatre in Abu Dhabi, Belgium, Canada, China, Ireland, Russia, Sweden, and the USA, as well as throughout the UK. In 2011, he was honoured to be appointed MBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his work for young people with disabilities. To find out more about Oily Cart, visit http://www.oilycart.org.uk.

    "An invaluable exploration of sensory theatre seen through the perspective of one of its most important developers, Oily Cart co-founder, Tim Webb. Both an historical perspective and a practical "how to" approach, the book gloriously celebrates the power of theatre, particularly when theatre makers look beyond traditional theatrical borders, to engage with participants (audiences) in multisensory ways. It asks readers to broaden their definition of what constitutes a story and the ways to perform it. While most applicable for theatre makers interested in creating inclusive performances, it also speaks to all theatre makers, reminding us to re-engage with how we approach our theatre making endeavors, being more mindful of the diversity of our audiences not only in their backgrounds and experiences, but with how they engage sensorially with the world. I do not think it hyperbolic to say this is perhaps the most important theatre book to be published in recent years."

    Dr. Teresa A Fisher, producer of New Plays for Young Audiences and author of Post-Show Discussions in New Play Development