Day 1 for the Imagining
Autism residency at the Atkinson Southport after the get in yesterday
when the team on tour created Outer Space and planned our trips to
Another Planet. The crew are the technician/Robot (Faith Austin), the
comic captain of the
moon tourism mission (Shaun McCrory), an alien (Annette Foster) and the
researcher facilitators Melissa Trimingham (puppetry, scenography) and
myself (dramaturgy). In addition we have some visiting guests, Mabel
Giraldo (all the way from Italy) and Helena
Taylor (Brighton). All the actors have professional backgrounds and
have been specially trained in the iA approach. We have devised three
“runways” as flexible versions of the space environment in response to
the information provided by teachers. Runway 1
is a sensory exploration with a gentle “going to the moon” take off, an
encounter with big and little aliens and feeding moon rocks, shadow
theatre puppetry and interaction with the various loose elements
(microphone, live feed etc). We worked through guided
improvisation to follow the children’s cues. Runway 2 has a loose narrative
with an unexpected landing on the wrong planet, a dust storm and a
captain who panics and needs rescuing from collapsed boulders (UV foam).
For Runway 3, the students are a film crew who create
an outer space adventure, using the set and special effects.

Yesterday we had Runway 3
twice with two groups of 11-12 year olds. They put on their space suits
and took control (as they so frequently do), delighting in the
improvisation, making their own space ships, working the puppets and
filming. The teachers
completed en route observations. The crew included an 11 year old boy
described to us as working away from class for 90% of his timetable and
having “controlled outbursts.” Each student was asked how they felt
before the trip, during the experience and after
(and encouraged to describe themselves). This 11 year old chose his own
words,  selecting“anxious” “uncomfortable” and “excited”. Mid trip he
was “calm” “creative” and “involved” and by the end of the trip he was
‘happy” and “creative” with his teacher noting
him as being ‘more confident and attentive.” After the event, the
participants went to reflective chill out space and we were given this
account:

“I felt really happy that I
did something to do with technology as I really like tech but trying a
program I had never tried and controlling the puppets but a large puppet
instead of a hand puppet.”

“I would definitely do something like that
again and I
think I might have found something I could use in the near future.” 

“10/10 I would do i it again.”