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Read: Sensory Theatre – The story of Oily Cart

Posted by Team APATA | Oct 20, 2022

Over four decades Oily Cart has reimagined theatre to include all young people.

Thriving on the challenge of making shows for “impossible audiences” Oily Cart’s founders Claire de Loon, Max Reinhardt and Tim Webb MBE were on a mission to create truly democratic theatre when they started the company in 1981, and they did just that.

Over the next forty years the company’s interactive, sensory shows have included the use of sounds, smells, touch, lights, music and movement, taking place on a stage, a trampoline, in a pool, or even up in the air.

This new book by founder and former Artistic Director Tim Webb MBE shares an insightful history of Oily Cart and its pioneering development of work in baby theatre, theatre for young people on the autism spectrum, and those affected by other neuro divergent conditions.

Conventional theatre relies on seeing and hearing to involve its audience; sensory theatre harnesses the power of five or more senses to address its participants who have different ways of relating to the world around them.

Sensory Theatre: How to Make Interactive, Inclusive, Immersive Theatre for Diverse Audiences by a Founder of Oily Cart is an accessible, step-by-step guide to creating theatre for inclusive audiences.

It gives a clear introduction to the fundamental concepts of this theatre, suggests a host of practical techniques drawn from over forty years of experience, and describes some of Oily Cart’s most radical innovations, including theatre on trampolines, in hydrotherapy pools, and with flying audiences in the company of aerial artists.

“The book provides a history of Webb’s and his company’s development of sensory theatre followed by detailed, thoughtful, and encouraging chapters on how to create theatre that engages participants and performers in multi-sensory ways. It is these two sections of the book that I think all theatre makers will find useful, no matter what type of theatre they are creating. For in exploring the sensory needs of the particular participants Webb and his company focused on, there is a reminder for all theatre makers of making sure our work speaks to a variety of audiences/participants and takes a variety of sensory considerations into account. In other words, a lot can be learned about how to make all theatre more accessible to the desired/specified audiences/participants.” T. Fisher

Readers will learn how to:

  • Research the intended audience while not being led astray by labels.
  • Create a welcoming, immersive sensory space in classrooms, nurseries, school halls, and playgrounds.
  • Devise sensory stories that can be adapted to suit different audiences.
  • Recruit, audition, cast, and run rehearsals.
  • Ensure that the production is truly sensory and interactive.

Written for Theatre for Young Audiences, Drama in Education, and specialised Applied Theatre courses, as well as educators and theatre practitioners interested in creating inclusive, interactive productions, Sensory Theatre offers a goldmine of ideas for making work that connects with audiences who can be the hardest to reach.

About the Sensory Theatre Author Tim Webb MBE:

Tim Webb was the Artistic Director and chief writer of Oily Cart from 1981 to his retirement in 2018. During this time, he led a team that created more than 85 productions for young people including those labelled as having Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities or other complex disabilities.

He has taught and directed sensory, immersive and interactive theatre in Abu Dhabi, Belgium, Canada, China, Ireland, Russia, Sweden, Japan and the USA as well as throughout the UK.

In 2011, he was honoured to be appointed MBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his work for young people with disabilities. In 2018, he was made an Honorary Fellow of Rose Bruford College.

Buy Sensory Theatre:


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