Handprint Theatre

A peek into the world of the sometimes crazy, but mostly lovely Handprint Theatre

Category: NDCS

Happy, Wicked Monday

by handprinttheatreblog

Well, our loves, you’re in for a treat today! Our lovely Lucy has some words to impart with you all…and it’s very green… Happy Monday!!

 

Helllooooooo downnnn therrrreeee…!!

I am currently imagining I am painted green and flying on my broomstick. Can you think which West End Production I am thinking of?

 

YES, you’ve got it, Wicked the Musical.

Handprint Theatre have just finished working with Mousetrap Theatre to deliver accessible workshops to D/deaf children, in relation to their theatre trips to see Wicked at The Apollo Victoria Theatre, in London’s West End. It was a very special project for Handprint, because every child deserves the right to access, no matter whether they are D/deaf or hearing.

 

The day started off by meeting our students in the foyer of the theatre. The students where from all over London, Surrey, and some had even travelled all the way down from Manchester up north!

We then had an introduction of everyone who was working on the project. This consisted of Mousetrap productions, the lovely NDCS volunteers, and a variety of very talented Handprint facilitators. It was a rather large team but it could not work without everyone pulling together.

 

We then split off into three different groups where the students took part in a theatre workshop delivered by Handprint Theatre. As a team we decided it was important to look at themes linked to the show, such as: friendship, judging, differences in people, and our beliefs. We played lots of different drama games to break the ice and then went on to discuss these themes through practical work.

After a very thoughtful hour of drama the students had the opportunity to learn a sign song of Defying Gravity…

 

‘Something has changed within me,

Something is not the same…

 

Its time to Try defying gravity….lalalalala’

 

…which later on they performed on the stage in front of the cast of Wicked. WOW… all I can say is watch this space, Elphaba and Glinda, we have some very talented young people – just show them the way to the Emerald City.

 

Within the day the students also had a touch tour of the stage, demonstrating how it worked with scene changes and lighting. They also got to see up close some of the very expensive props used within the show. (We even got to touch the wigs… made out of REAL hair…ewwww).

On second project day we were lucky enough to have a performer join us for the talks…I think we had some fans at the end of the day. Finally, the students took their seats to watch the show!

 

I feel very lucky to be apart of such a fantastic project. Discussing the show in detail before the students see it, and also having the opportunity to see the behind the scenes workings of a show is enlightening, and reignites my enthusiasm for theatre as an adult, so I can not imagine the effect this project has on the students.

 

When asking a student whether she had enjoyed her day she replied:

 

It’s been such a fun day, I have also made some new deaf friends and taken their numbers. I liked seeing deaf and hearing people working together and meeting new people..’

On that note…I’m off to dig out my witches hat and find me a wizard…

 

Lucy aka Luchia of the North (my witches name)

xx

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Soapy Sam is off to BRIGHTON!!

by handprinttheatreblog

Our very own wonderful Laura has written an awesome blog post that chronicles the journey of Soapy Sam, from the initial ideas, all the way to the way the production stands at the moment. It’s been one wild journey, and we are looking forward to where it will take us next! This week, Sam is going to be in Brighton – there are still tickets if you want to join him, more information is at the bottom of the post. 

 

Handprint HQ is always pretty busy, but it seems at the moment we have really surpassed ourselves with a manic summer of exciting events, festivals and projects!

Soapy Sam is back in development, and with some tweaks and adjustments and plenty more bubbles it is really exciting to be back on the road, this time heading to the seaside.

Soapy Sam

Soapy Sam has been one of our longest running projects, and his journey is something that we have definitely learnt from, and hope it will continue and children across the country fall in love with our little puppet.

Initially started in 2010, we decided to venture to the Camden Fringe with a children’s show, where we could explore signing with puppetry and include a younger audience (previously our work had not been suitable for children!). A memorable email was the moment when we suddenly thought ‘what if a boy got sucked down the plug hole?’.  This was our starting point, and the possibilities seemed endless, yet impossible!

But how to start the show when the company was living across the country was interesting!

With many emails and rehearsals, including commuting between Reading and London, and finding any space possible to build puppets and get messy with bubbles…it was not the easiest of processes. The original cast of myself (Laura), Marian Hoddy, and Megan Pennyfather tried many different story ideas, looking at what would happen if a small boy got sucked down the plughole.

As with many Fringe festivals with hundreds of shows, and unknown companies, it was a real struggle to get audience; and sometimes very disheartening. But we all agreed at the end of the run that Soapy Sam had far more potential!

In 2011 we began a Creative Partnership with a school in Slough, where we were asked to work with Yr 1’s on a puppetry project. Soapy Sam was desperate to jump off Marian’s shelf, and so we knew this could be the perfect way to redevelop the story – with children. So we welcomed Lucy O’Keeffe into the team and set about how the show could work in a 6 week school schedule, inspiring the children to make their own puppets and also to develop the story with their fantastic ideas.

Getting to Slough for 9am from London was a lot of early starts, but working with the children was an eye-opening process. Performing sections of the story and asking the children to tell the next part led to monster parties, scary slime and crazy creatures.

One pupil asked us, ‘Why is there only one picture of Soapy Sam online?’ – he was 7 (!!). We knew that Soapy Sam had a lot more adventures waiting to take place, and we needed more pictures online!

A complete story change, meant that Soapy Sam’s adventure was a whole new show, and we were excited to tell the new story.

The Little Chill festival in London provided a great opportunity to tell this new story in a slightly windy and very wet tent! Another cast change meant the show was a very new experience, and we added a participatory workshop after where the audience could make their own puppets like the children in Slough had done previously. More and more characters were building, and although this was a particularly wet performance, Soapy Sam still had a long way to go!

Sam next went international! Journeying on the ferry across to Guernsey, he charmed the Island, performing to many Deaf families, and even got in the local paper.

In November 2011 we were lucky enough to visit The Bike Shed Theatre in Devon. 3 days of Soapy Sam provided the first theatre experience for some tiny audience members, and was enthusiastically received. The performance had been accompanied by a shadow puppetry making workshop at the Exeter Central Library, which encouraged children to really get creative! We were also able to visit some local schools where they were able to not just watch, but also experience the show in an interactive workshop. Classes of children were sucked down the pipes, journeyed through the slime…but back in class in time for lunch!

The Exeter Royal Academy of Deaf Education brought a group of young people to The Bike Shed, where they were able to do a workshop on the stage, explore the ‘pipes’, meet the puppets, and then see the show. It was an exciting day and a great experience for young people to be working in the professional theatre.

Soapy Sam was tired, but did not stop exploring there, in fact he came back to London for a 3 weekend run at the Warehouse Theatre in Croydon. Once again, some reshaping, new direction and polishing up his adventure was set up and full of bubbles! Supported by the NDCS, we were able to provide puppet making workshop in the theatre after the show, where we met some exciting new characters, and were given many more ideas for his adventures.

We even had the first ever Soapy Sam birthday party, where an excited group of party-goers saw the show and then had a very tasty Soapy Sam birthday cake and of course met our famous friend!

We also worked with illustrator Alex Bennett, in developing the Soapy Sam children’s book which is currently on sale for £4, so families can take the story home to read together again and again, including lots of gruesome things to look out for down the pipes.

Many school teachers have contacted us and bought the book and told us it has become a class favourite – but what will he do next?

Since Croydon, Soapy Sam has been doing one off performances at various family events, including in Reading for the NDCS Family Day, and the Harrow Family Deaf day. Children (and parents!) were able to see the show in a beautiful cabin and then make some fantastic puppets, and told us exactly what would happen to Sam.

2013 has so far been a restful time for Soapy Sam, although he will be back in action for the Brighton Fringe. It is our first visit to Brighton, and we are really excited to be working with the Brighton and Hove Junior School who will be playing host to the performance. The pupils will be able to explore the pipes during the day, and then at 5pm we have a public performance where all are welcome to see the latest version of Sam’s adventures.

It is fascinating to recall the journey that the show has been on, the changing cast members, and different directors. All have contributed so much, but no one could ever give as much enthusiasm and passion for the puppet than the children in the audience. It is great to see how many children continue to care, and help Sam through his adventures, and we can not wait to meet his new friends in Brighton.

 

 

5pm, 22 May 2013, Brighton and Hove Junior School, Tickets £4 Children (£5 adult) Book online at www.brightonfringe.org.uk

 

Any teachers or organisations who would like a visit from Soapy Sam do get in touch.

Sarah n Bee

(Photo taken in Brighton, yesterday, publicising Soapy Sam – it involved lots of BUBBLES, shower caps, Soapy Sam stickers, and flyers…and a whole bunch of fun!)

A very Superhero-tastic (NDCS) Big Weekend…

by Sarah

March 15th-16th 2013

(NDCS Big Weekend for families with deaf children with additional complex needs)

 

What do you get with a packed car full of costumes, puppets, rainbows, bubbles, hoops, arts materials, jelly babies and wellies?? A Handprint journey, of course!

 

Travelling in an unusual style due to a rent-a-car (Handprint’s poor trusty and much loved Nissan-Micra, aka Terrance, was the victim of a naughty speeding car who hit him as he has having a rest, parked on the side of the road). Thankfully no one was hurt…well, apart from Terrance.

Anyhow, on Friday 14th March, we left a rainy, cold London for a rainy, cold Manchester via a “thrilling” 5 hour stop start journey in rain, hail, traffic jams, and problems involving not knowing how to turn the car’s air con off after de-steaming the windows! So we channelled the windswept and frozen look! Thankfully, the jelly babies proved a vital source of energy (although some Handprinters should not be given too much sugar), and Marge (our Satnav) provided continuous entertainment. Just never mess with her or disobey her instructions as she gets MAD!

 

Having finally arrived, the hotel and orange/purple T-shirts from the NDCS staff became a beacon of light in the rain, welcoming us in with a smile. What we love about working with the NDCS is everyone is so happy, friendly and helpful all the time! So soon, inside this happy hub, the journey felt like a distant memory.

 

The following morning started with a full English Superhero breaky, and after a whiz down the road in the Handprintmobile to a lovely site – the Seashell trust – the Handprinters were ready to set up their Superhero Training Camp! With a ZIP, a ZAP, and a WALLER, the room was transformed, Superhero capes were on (for some this is not a costume but an everyday fashion-must-have) and the Superhero cadets started arriving!

superfun

 

The four different groups, appropriately named FAST, FLEXIBLE, STRONG and SMART put us through our paces, showing that they are much better Superheroes by completing a number of Superhero challenges, including: learning to fly, pose, burst bad bubbles (yep, not all bubbles are good), going over/under/through a number of obstacles such as green goblin slime and rescuing helpless creatures, to name but a few! PHEW, I’m knackered just remembering it all!

SuperGoldini

 

The next stage was to create a Superhero mask and cape to go with the new skills, and the cadets put the likes of Stella McCartney to shame with some of the designs!

To end the session, the new Superheroes explored our Sensory City with glow sticks and torches, catching any villains that were lurking around, and enjoying some free play time.

 

Then just as quickly as we came, we were off again, back to the hotel, after reports reached us of an evil green villain who was up to no good.

Superhandprinters

Luckily we reached the stage just in time to bring our comic “Saving Cardboard City” to life to an eager audience (which was full of newly trained Superheroes who were ready to join in and stop the green villain… ha ha, who had no chance against this brave lot).

 

Performance over, we took a minute to look at the variety of coloured capes and masks being paraded around the hall…brilliant! Never had a hotel felt so safe then with this super lot!!

 

SuperHoddy

Springing into action the following morning and we were back at the Seashell trust, ready to meet our mini Superhero cadets for the day, this time from the creche!

And soon, another fab day flew by with more imaginative and hilarious Superheroes, who may have been small but they were still on the ball! Whilst going through our obstacle challenge, we got to a stinky, slimy section, and on asking the cadets: “Shall we go over or under it?”, one smart Superhero shot his hand up, and replied: “Well…we got just go pass it….” Duh!

 

SuperSTEPHEN

Packing up and saying goodbye is sometimes rather sad, but at the end of this project we could do nothing but smile and laugh at all the wonderfully funny moments that make projects like this so magical and fun!! Our mission was accomplished, Superheroes were trained and the World was saved…once again!

 

So now all that is left is for us to say is a BIG thank you to the NDCS for having us, and thank you to all the families we met on this adventure!

 

Until next time…its time for the kettle to go on and to hang up our capes….well, maybe we will leave them on…just in case 🙂

Handprint Stephen

 

“I was at the NDCS’s Big Weekend for deaf children with complex needs and their families this week in Manchester and just wanted to say what a fabulous show you put on. It was lovely to hear so much laughter from the children (and the adults) around the hall. Thank you!” (Feedback from the Weekend)

 

From Handprint Marian