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This week I had my first meeting at The Orchards specialist school in Flixton, Trafford to talk about how to introduce and adapt Statue performance/workshop for the school setting. I specifically wanted to work with this school as it believes in person-centred planning and I have developed a working relationship with Sarah Cattell, we had previously worked together with Manchester Art Gallery and Grange School on a collaborative performance titled, ‘Spinning‘. I met with Sarah and the deputy head, Miss Helen Walker who are really excited to bring in some performance work on site as it can be challenging for families to visit venues and how we can customise sessions to the children’s needs. I was informed that Trafford schools have made a commitment to the communication system Sign Along which is very similar to Makaton language although this was still at the early stages of being integrated into the school. I plan to work with the speech and language therapist at the school to adapt some of the signs and symbols to keep consistency with what is being taught in the classroom.

I plan on delivering three micro touch tours for small groups which will take the structure of a relaxed rehearsal in a classroom setting where the children can look and touch the performance set materials and experience some of the content. I like informal settings and the warm up at the start of my workshop starts by sitting on the floor and depending on the individuals needs I am happy to do a full session at this level. I visited the hall which has quite a lot of visual distractions and I am thinking about how to simplify the space. When I performed Statue at Z-arts the set was across the width of the space which I will explore at the school as this way can create a more focussed performance area and will keep the intimacy of the workshop. I have been experimenting in the studio with performance set sketches and visual sets. I have been enjoying using illuminous orange tape and reflective materials. Working with existing materials I have been exploring periphery props and sensory objects for children to interact with.

I feel that it is best practice to experience observing a creative session at the Orchards school and to get to meet some of the children who I will be working with. What does a classroom look like in this particular school? I am interested to see and hear the children’s reactions to statue, how might they describe what this thing is in the world in their own way? I will research existing resources that I can use to support my sessions in terms of lighting, overhead projectors, floor matts to create a sensory, transformational experience in the hall. Statue was originally intended to be shown outdoors and I wonder whether there could be a potential site on the school grounds to explore staging this as an intervention piece? Lots to reflect on and to negotiate with the school.