Category Archives: Blog

2018 and New Trustees!

2018 is looking like it will be an exciting year for Frozen Light. We have four more weeks of R&D on The Isle of Brimsker before it premieres in May. This will be followed by a small Autumn 2018 tour and a much larger Spring 2019 tour.

But before all that we have already got off to an exciting start by welcoming a brand new board of Trustees to Frozen Light. We had our first board meeting a few weeks ago and are really excited about how this dynamic group of individuals will help shape the future and ensure the sustainability of the charity.

We will be adding an official page to the website soon with full biographies of each board member, but I thought I would give you a sneak preview of who everyone is on our blog now.

Heading up the board is the wonderful Les Miller who has stepped in as Chair. Les has worked in just about every role in the arts from actor to venue manager. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience that will help lead the board. Les helped us build the board and has been a wonderful guide for us on this process.

As Company Secretary we have Sarah Bellamy who randomly found us through a google search that was meant to be! Sarah again has a varied past starting with working in theatre (as a magicians assistant!!) and moving through management roles in citizens advice and the construction industry. Sarah will keep us on track with the managerial side of Frozen Light and we are looking forward to working with her.

Company Treasurer has been filled by Nic Carter who we met on a trustee speed dating event (yes these things do exist) hosted by Cause4, we both matched each other and here he is on our board. Nic works in accountancy in international development and is very passionate about spreadsheets!

Sharon Slade has joined us as Audience Advocate. It was really important to us that we had someone on our board who could be the voice of our audience. We wanted this person to always bring the question back to “is this right for people with PMLD” and in Sharon we believe we have found that voice. Sharon is the mum of Lauren who has been an audience member of ours since the beginning. Sharon also works in global events, is a school governor at a special school and tirelessly fundraises for Rett UK. She is running her 5th Marathon for Rett UK this year- you can support her here.

Last but not least we have Heather Rose. Heather is a producer at The Pleasance in London and Edinburgh Festival and is bringing a current voice from the arts world to the table. Heather knows our work well already from when she worked with house, and it’s great to have someone on our board who has seen our creative journey.

The plan now is to work with this new board to continue to grow Frozen Light and build a sustainable future for the charity. We are really excited for the next chapter of our journey to continue.

Lucy x

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2017 round up!

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2017 has been an amazing year for Frozen Light.  After premiering and touring HOME to the Eastern region in Autumn 2016 we then took it on our biggest tour yet, which saw us visit 42 additional venues, one of those being The Pleasance at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  The tour was phenomenal and we all had the best time.  We engaged with so many new audience members and met so many wonderful people both audience and venue staff.

We just want to say a big thank you to our fabulous audiences who support us so much, not just through attending our shows but also by actively following us on social media and generally spreading the Frozen Light word.  

Thanks to all the wonderful venues that have programmed us and believed in what we do.  Many of these venues have now made a commitment to accessible programming and we hope to see you at one of these theatres in 2018/19.

Also thank you to everyone who has worked with us over the past year, you are all a massive part of Frozen Light and we couldn’t do it without you.

2018 will see us premiere our new show The Isle of Brimsker and we couldn’t be more excited.  After the premiere we will then be touring it nationally in Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.  We can’t wait.

See you in the New Year!!

Amber and Lucy xx
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Interview with Frozen Light’s Musical Director- Al Watts

What is your role in the devising process with Frozen Light?
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My role within the devising process is primarily two fold. Firstly, I have to translate the narrative or sensory experience into sounds and music. Secondly, I have to create a sound journey for the audience to embark upon. I guess this is the same in any ‘art creation’ in that you have to keep one eye on the macro and the other one on the micro at all times.

I love the devising process, it seems like magic but it’s just thinking deeply enough about something that it takes on its own life. When you have a team of people that you trust artistically with a shared goal, that’s a really powerful tool and great to be a part of. The core team spends a lot of time together during the devising process, normally a few feet away from each other in the same room and all aspects of the show are openly discussed, feedback on work can be achieved instantly (which is a good and a bad thing depending upon my mood!) so I see my role as well as specifically writing the music but also to support the artistic directors in whatever way I can to get ‘the vision’ to become reality.

Having worked with Frozen Light since they were founded I am fully invested in their aims and their ethos and I consider it a real privilege to create work for a PMLD audience.  It’s not an easy process, making work for such a vulnerable group who are mostly unrepresented in our society.  It is both highly intellectually stimulating whilst at the same time making you continually question your ethics and morality, which is never a bad thing.

What are the key things you think about when composing music for audiences with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD)?
11401078_976873125676542_3386012269126560007_nIt’s very easy these days to think that technology has all the answers.  In music this is no different, why get a cello and learn to play it when we can learn the comuter and it can do a million things for us and play the cello more reliably than I can? Well in reality, because they are totally different experiences. A Frozen Light show is about a two-way communication that in many ways traditional theatre is the antithesis of.  This is why we believe if a musical instrument can be played live it should…no, it needs to be. This is especially important for the audience that Frozen Light creates work for because the opportunity to hear live music is so much more limited. Live music is not always practical logistically or in terms of the budget- but that’s the goal.

I try to not make any compromises.  A PMLD audience has such limited options to access culture that is specifically designed for their needs that we as a company feel a great responsibility to get it right. Obviously ‘right’ is subjective but the feedback we get and the audience engagement we receive tells us that we definitely get it more right than wrong.

How has the music you’ve written changed or developed since working with Frozen Light?

1970523_748546331842557_824584942_nHopefully it has got better, what I mean is that you keep learning with every show you do.  Every show needs different qualities both in terms of creation and performance. I’ve certainly learnt to trust my instincts.

Everybody enjoys ‘good music’. No matter how difficult we think it could be to relate to someone because of their physical appearance. Music connects us in a timeless and ethereal way that probably comes from a pre-language point in our evolution (I’m sure I’ve read that somewhere…the internet? It must be true!). What I’m trying to say is that I’m not sure my music has radically changed…my attitudes definitely have.

As well as being in the rehearsal room and composing music for the shows, you’ve also performed in all of Frozen Light’s productions.  What are the various responses you get from audiences? Have any of these responses surprised you?
I guess from a performance point of view the main thing I’ve learnt is not to be surprised by anything. I’ve literally performed to an audience that don’t even enter the main theatre space because they are anxious and coming to the theatre may be a new experience for them and so it’s completely overwhelming.  Some audience members need to explore the instruments physically, some walk around, make noise, join in…you name it, it’s happened in a Frozen Light show.  No two shows are the same because of this, which makes each performance a huge amount of fun.

What has been your favourite instrument to work with in the productions and why?
This is a really difficult question. As a self confessed audiophile I am obsessed with sounds and instruments both harmonically and tonally. I believe that any instrument played with passion and care can produce an emotive response within the listener…even if the sound is not “nice”.

I love the guitar, I always have. I can clearly remember as a child bugging my parents for a guitar, the sound just gets me and so it’s (nearly) always a pleasure to pick it up and whether that’s for a Frozen Light show or something totally different.

14650667_1301032649927253_7216335232487592984_nTalking more specifically about Frozen Light, massive percussion is always fun, the gong we used in HOME was both epic and beautiful. The saxophone was really interesting as the tonal quality it has seemed to make our audiences really responsive.  Ultimately however you can’t beat vocal harmonies- when the cast is singing together and it’s bang on that’s really satisfying and the audience really engage with it.

Any insights on what the music might be like for the new show? (no spoilers please)
Personally I would like to explore a closer relationship between sound and movement and light…beyond that I’m not sure I want to say any more. If however you want to know more you are just gonna have to come and see it.

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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