Picnic Project: A theatre project for young children with complex needs

With spring upon us we have been delving into our picnic baskets and stretching out our blanket in preparation for taking our Picnic Project to our wonderful families in Kildare! With delicious food to smell and taste, music to sate our ears and the odd buzzy bumble bee flying through the air, this multi-sensory theatre piece is a treat for the senses…

In 2016, we piloted our early years theatre project in Kildare in partnership with the Jack and Jill Foundation, working with young children who have complex needs and their families in the home. Now we are back in the rehearsal studio with the Picnic Team – director Joanna Williams and performers Niamh Lawlor and Thomas Johnston –  to build on the first phase and develop more sensory experiences with a new performance piece.

Performer Niamh Lawlor stocks the picnic basket

The team are focusing on rehearsing the scenes from phase one, which centre on oranges and honey. These acts include an orange massage, an opportunity to touch and smell the oranges, some friendly buzzy bees, mesmerising honeycomb and a few other very magical experiences.

Over the coming weeks, the team will work to devise the next acts of the performance and will explore a variety of sensory stimulants for our picnic story that are both vibrantly exciting and serenely beautiful in equal measure. To bring our ideas to life we are working with prop maker Mia Van Evelingen as she lovingly creates our picnic scene. By June 2017 we will see the team take the performance to the first of our families in Kildare. For now though, it is back to the rehearsal studio. Watch this space!

The Picnic Project is funded by the Arts Council, the JP McManus Charitable Foundation and Allianz Ireland with support from Kildare County Council.