My aim with this work was to make my Unknown Statue workshop & performance Makaton friendly which I feel was a success. I started with a relaxed performance of a maximum of 25 people and in the second session 75 and surprisingly I felt that I could hold the rooms attention with the work and the slideshow so this was a good experiment to try a limited capacity and then opening it up to see what could be the maximum audience in the space. I was unsure about the timings, and the lengths of some of the elements within the show but I think with a little tweaking this could be improved, however, the structure was right with a short warm up, talk and sign through the slides, performance and collaborative performance at the end. The space rocket symbol graphic used in the sound effect sections of the song that the participants had were a real success I could see how excited the children were holding an object to zoom into the sky.
I set the tone at the start by just being myself, meeting and greeting everyone was important for me to feel comfortable and to make people feel welcome. I did consider being statue still at the beginning as the audience entered but physically I just felt that would be too much for me and that it could be quite scary for some of the children. A surprising thing that happened at the end of session two was when my son approached me on the plinth and high fived me which then led to a stream of children wanting to repeat this interaction with me. This got me thinking about more interactivity at the beginning and at the end of the performance. I want to include a touch tour element to the work as the make-up and wardrobe are fascinating to look at and to touch. The song choice was perfect and I am passionate about using contemporary music rather than nursery rhymes or children’s books which are the usual references in Makaton signed performances. I produced a printed sign/symbol/lyric sheet for participants to take away at the end of the show and from the feedback, I had received people appreciated the opportunity to be able to continue there learning at home.
To gather audience reactions I had an interviewer gather feedback from families to find out what they liked and what they would change in the show? The reaction that resonated with me was a mother of two children, one child has down syndrome and she commented that: “I liked that it was something for all ages. My daughter doesn’t often participate in things from start to finish she usually loses focus but that had her gripped and I feel like I’ve come away and learned something that I can continue to learn with the girls.” I observed a child and his mother who looked quite disengaged in the second session however when it came to signing together the child knew all of the signs and completed the entire song. I am careful not to assume what participation looks like as I understand that this can be achieved by simply looking or being in a room with other people, the additional signing for some people is a bonus. However, this did confirm for me the importance of the symbol and word slideshow as another visual medium for the audience to read from which I noticed that the child had followed.
As part of my a-n and arts council project grant, I have two research visits firstly a show that has integrated Makaton and I will attend a second show that is a relaxed performance. I wonder if there are shows that are produced solely as a relaxed performance? What are the seating layouts and capacity for this type of show? I want to experience different types of touch tours, for example, a taster/teaser of a show and to experience being physically guided by my hands to explore sculptural figures. Overall my show needs editing down and I will trim down the music and the number of symbols taught in the sign/symbol/word slideshow section. Could there be some background music playing as people entered the space? Could the performance space be more colourful or include some sensory elements for younger children. Lots to reflect on…