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Back to blogging!

So we haven’t blogged in a really long time! Shameful I know. Work gets busy, life gets busy and what with touring, funding applications and creating new work, blogging always falls to the bottom of the list. As most of you know will already know Frozen Light create touring multi-sensory theatre for audiences with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD). When we are on the road I always have a brain full of blog ideas- things I get annoyed about and want to share with the world (where are all the changing places toilets?!!). Things that make me extremely happy and I want to shout about. But then, like today when I sit down to write those blogs, my brain is blank, nothing in it. I can’t remember any of those things that made me so angry I wanted to cry or so happy I also want to cry (I cry a lot).

I’ve been trying to write a blog about disability terminology and why we use the phrase ‘people with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities’ when talking about our audience. It’s something we get asked about a lot so I wanted to take time to answer those questions. But I have been writing and re-writing for over an hour and nothing is coming out right (I promise to publish it soon…) so here I am, scrolling through Google looking for inspiration, looking for videos and articles about the lives of people with PMLD that will back up my ideas, that will make me sound more interesting. But guess what, I can barely find anything! Obviously, there is the wonderful PMLD Link but you need to subscribe to the Journal (which you should all do) to access the information. There is all the great stuff MENCAP put out in its Involve Me and Raising Our Sights projects but that was at least 5 years ago. Where are the people shouting about the rights of people with PMLD? Scope have an amazing YouTube channel that is really challenging the way society treats people with disabilities and again this is wonderful but where are the voices of people with PMLD?

I’m not saying that there is nothing out there because I am sure there is if you have time to scroll through mountains of websites but to me everything seems so dated and old, like once you have written about people with PMLD you don’t need to bother anymore (in this I am in no way including all the incredible blogs out there written by parents and carers of people with PMLD who do an amazing job of sharing people’s stories). Who I am talking about is the big national charities, the ones who champion the rights of people with learning disabilities, they do an incredible job but where is the voice of the people with PMLD? They are forgotten again. They are too quiet and too invisible. There is always someone who shouts louder, someone who is able to jump the queue in front of the person sitting quietly in a corner. It is so important that we don’t forget people with PMLD. People with PMLD are some of the most vulnerable and excluded people in society – we mustn’t forget them. I am putting together a list of the resources, articles and videos that I am finding- and will certainly be blogging about articles that inspire me in the future.

At Frozen Light we are trying to do our small bit to get the theatre sector talking about our audience. Training them to see what an important audience people with PMLD are and how just by making small adjustments you can easily open your doors and make your venue more accessible to this audience. But maybe we are not shouting loud enough. We only visit theatres once every two years when we have a new show. What can we do to ensure that these theatres keep having an offer so that people with PMLD can access the theatre more than once every two years? How can we leave a legacy for our audience? These are issues we are trying to tackle. We have been invited to be on a panel at an upcoming disability arts conference, this signals a change because often at events like this people with PMLD are not on the agenda. We are looking to run more artist training schemes to encourage more artists to realise what an exciting group this is to make work for and how, working in a sensory way can really expand the way you think about theatre and art. We will continue to champion changing places toilets and share information about them wherever we go. But we want to do more- we need to do more. How can we use our platform to shout out for people with PMLD to make them more visible in society? Answers on a postcard please!

Lucy Garland
Co-Artistic Director

The Forest tour comes to an end

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Sorry it has been a while since we have blogged, tour came to an end and it was straight into preparations for the new show, but more about that later. Our great intentions of consistent blogs about the venues we toured to came to an end due to the intensity of performing two shows a day, getting the set in and out, the miles of driving and touring with 3 children under 3 (+ 3 grandparents!) Firstly let us tell you about how The Forest tour went:

We visited 26 venues from end of August 2015 – beginning of December 2015. We reached 402 people with PMLD, 411 Carers, 34 additional family members (some carers were family carers), 179 additional people (students, artists, general public), 160 members of Theatre staff and 13 members of press. Overall The Forest played to 1199 people.

We made some wonderful connections with venues. For many venues it was the first time they had programmed a show specifically for our audiences needs. The Forest really opened their eyes to the possibilities of working with audiences with PMLD again in the future. We hope to return to most of these venues with our next production ‘Home’. We also returned to a number of venues we had taken Tunnels to. We saw some of the same audiences that had been to see Tunnels and it was really heart-warming how we were welcomed back by theatre staff and audiences.

During The Forest tour we also spoke to a lot of other artists and students about our work and the methodologies behind it. We really hope that our enthusiasm has rubbed off on some of these people and there will be more work created for audiences with PMLD in the near future.

The Forest tour was full on, especially being on the road with all our children and grandparents, but we had the best time. We visited towns we had never been to, met fantastic enthusiastic theatre staff but most of all we enjoyed engaging with our audience and their families and carers. I will leave you with some audience quotes from the tour:

Thank you so much for a fabulous morning! It was a real joy to see the communication and interaction between yourselves and the students. Every single student engaged with your production throughout and every one of them thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Teacher – Bordon Pheonix

Extremely impressed with the professionalism, thought and planning that allowed Ellie to partake and enjoy, despite this being a day when her epilepsy was active and can interrupt her enjoyment. Would highly recommend. Mum – Attenborough Arts Centre

Lauryn is tactile defensive and places/environments like these that are unfamiliar are challenging. However, she loved it. Even the few things she was unsure about were tolerated so well. Your team are fantastic. Thank you. Respite Carer – Attenborough Arts Centre

All of our pupils were engaged and enjoyed the show. It’s great to have something aimed at PMLD people. Teacher – Grand Pavillion

Exceptional, inspiring. Mark responded in a way I haven’t seen before. Carer – Dorchetster Arts

Absolutely fabulous. Rachel LOVED it and followed everything. She usually falls asleep in the afternoons. I was moved to tears with how well she reacted – as did all our children. Teacher – The Garage

What can I say? Such talented performers. Amazing, very creative and inspirational performance. Entirely inclusive, loved every moment, a treat for all the senses! Respite Carer – The Garage

I felt the show was inspired. Very personal and inclusive. The time spent with the individuals was really nice. It wasn’t rushed and very non-judging. Excellent. Mum – Gulbenkian

 

Dundee Rep

We are so pleased to visit Dundee as it is home to PAMIS, the only organisation dedicated to working specifically with people with PMLD and their families in the UK.  PAMIS do amazing work and we hope some of the families they support will come and see The Forest.

We visited Dundee Rep last year and performed in the fabulous space at Bonar Hall.  As a company it is really exciting to be programmed again at such a prestigious venue as it shows they have a commitment to opening their doors to people with PMLD.  

Interesting fact about Dundee:
The inventor of the adhesive postage stamp, James Chalmers, was born in Dundee in 1782.

Nearest Changing Places Toilet:
PAMIS
Springfield House,
15/16 Springfield University of Dundee,
Dundee, DD1 4JE

See you on tour!

Lucy Garland, Frozen Light

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Platform- Glasgow

e0ed7f81bc7b4ead96505df78c81e87bWe are super excited to go back to Platform.  When we visited last year with Tunnels we had a great time and were really impressed with how embedded the venue is in its local community.  Platform is based in The Bridge which is a multi-purpose venue in Easterhouse, Glasgow East.  It includes a library, swimming pool, café and theatre.  To us this seems like a great way of getting different and diverse communities through the door.

Platform has a number of inivative projects to use arts to improve the health and wellbeing of its local community.  It also works closely with local artists.  As part of this we will be running an artists workshop to share our practice on creating work for audiences with PMLD.

We also LOVE Glasgow.  It is such a cool city with so many vegan restaurants.  It is heaven for us, so expect us to come home from Glasgow a stone heavier as we plan on eating all the Vegan food.

Nearest Changing Places Toilet:Tollcross International Swimming Centre
360 Wellshott Road,
Tollcross, Glasgow,
G32 7QP
Tel: 0141 2768282

See you on tour!!

Lucy Garland, Frozen Light

 

Arena Theatre- Wolverhampton

This post is coming to you DURING our time at Wolverhampton- it’s always great to do two days at a venue as you get a really good sense of where you are performing and the local area. Having a great time at Arena Theatre, they had so much interest for The Forest that they booked us for an additional day. Audiences today have been wonderful and we just received a beautiful thank you email from the first group that came which is great as we love hearing from our audiences.  The audiences from the second show today were also fab and there was a lot of laughter shared by both performers and audience members which was loads of fun for everyone involved.

Looking forward to tomorrow and next stop Scotland!

See you on tour!!

Amber Onat Gregory, Frozen Light

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The Courtyard – Hereford

Again you are getting this blog entry post visit, but again this gives us a chance to let you know about the shows.  We had a lovely time at The Courtyard.  The theatre is relatively new and is a stunning building.  It has an amazing foyer and café area (we had a very scrummy healthy lunch) and I know some of our audience really enjoyed making use of these facilities.  This is what it is all about for us, people with PMLD being able to make a real day out from their trip to the theatre.

Both shows were lovely and we had a wonderful group come from a local trust that really enjoyed the show.  Lots of the staff from the venue also came to see the show which for us is brilliant as it really gets theatre venues talking about multi-sensory work for audiences with PMLD.  

See you on tour!

Lucy Garland, Frozen Light12122933_1049080111789176_7780441100014600241_n

Blackwood Miners Institute

Tour has been so busy and due to this we didn’t manage to get this post out before we visited Blackwood Miners Institute.  But in a way I am glad as now I can fill you in on how the shows went.

We had two lovely shows in Blackwood, both to adult audiences.  The venue are hugely dedicated to building their audience base of people with PMLD and hopefully The Forest has started that journey.  They have a relaxed performance of their pantomime coming up in December, so if you are in the area this is worth a look.  We met some lovely staff at Blackwood who have a real commitment to their local community and we hope to there again in the future. 

This was our first visit to South Wales and we are excited to head back to the area in a few weeks when we visit Grand Pavillion in Porthcawl.  

See you on tour!

Lucy Garland, Frozen Light

 

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Live Theatre, Newcastle

It is going to be brilliant visiting Live Theatre.  The venue has shown such a commitment to our work which makes our lives so much easier when it comes to organising our tour.  Live Theatre is so excited to build relationships with audiences with PMLD and is dedicated to creating a welcoming theatre venue that is open to all.  We feel that as a company we fit really well with the ethos of Live theatre and are excited to be working with them.

The theatre is in a beautifully refurbished fully accessible building and is a real treat for anyone visiting.

Apparently polls have reported that Newcastle is the politest city in England.

Nearest Changing Places Toilet –
Wow Newcastle wins the prize for the most changing places of anywhere we are touring to.  Within 1 mile of Live Theatre there are 8 Changing Places, within Newcastle and Gateshead there are 18!

City Library – Charles Avison Building
New Bridge Street
West Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE1 8AX
Tel: 0191 2774100

Live Theatre exterior

The Civic, Barnsley

We are really excited to visit The Civic.  It is the only venue we are visiting in Yorkshire (the country’s largest county).  It is also one of only two venues we are visiting in the North of the country.  We really wanted to visit more venues in the north but unfortunately couldn’t make this happen.  If you live in the North of England and want to see Frozen Light please call your local theatre and ask them to put us in their programme.  We are so keen to reach people with PMLD across the whole of the UK but are aware that there are areas we are not been able to get to on this tour.

The Civic has a really great programme and we are really excited to have been programmed amongst other such brilliant companies.  

Interesting fact about Barnsley – Barnsley is home to the UK’s first ever bottle bank.  As a company who care a lot about the environment we are pleased to visit the town that led the way in glass recycling!

Nearest Changing Places Toilet –
There are actually 3 changing places in Barnsley (brilliant!) The closest one to the Civic is:

Barnsley Town Hall
Church Street
Barnsley
South Yorkshire,
S70 1QX

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The Old Fire Station, Oxford

We’re extremely excited about touring to a venue we’ve never performed at before on Thursday 8th October- The Old Fire Station in Oxford.

The Old Fire station has an incredibly strong outreach program, Crisis Skylight, that it runs with the charity Crisis. Together they hope to end homelessness in Oxford. Through the program they offer training and volunteering opportunities to Skylight members, the chance to create work with professional artists and also enable Crisis members to see shows and exhibitions at the arts centre.  We think that this work is brilliant and also crucial in supporting so many vulnerable people. We’re thrilled that they have programmed The Forest to reach another very vulnerable group in our society.

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Oxford is dubbed the City of Dreaming Spires (see pic below- looks pretty dreamy!) based on the architecture of the University. The dreaming spires are referenced in The Small Faces 60’s song Itchycoo Park.

Nearest Changing Places
The Vine Pub
11 Abingdon Road, Cumnor Village,
Oxford, OX2 9QN

Oxford_Skyline_Panorama_from_St_Mary's_Church_-_Oct_2006See you on tour!

Amber Onat Gregory
Frozen Light