“Totally unique and very important work” Broadway World UK
“Wonderful experience at Midsummer Night’s Dream! It was a magic spell of movement & sound, funny but mysterious. Katie & John were swept into the players’ company & became part of the show. Wonder full!” Parent of children who attended
“Last Saturday I really didn’t know what to expect when I turned up for Flute Theatre’s performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with my extremely autistic 18 year old son, Tim.
As always, being in a public place with Tim was panic-inducing, despite the fact that this was an incredibly supportive environment. Even before the start, while the actors and artistic director were warmly introducing themselves, Tim managed to run away from me 3 times – to be retrieved from the auditorium, the ladies’ loos and the admin offices. The difference was that no one minded or batted an eyelid, and I was immediately offered help with finding him. That never happens!
At the start I experienced familiar feelings – hard to shift ever since Tim was tiny – of feeling intensely anxious about his behaviour and nervous of being judged as his parent. As Tim galloped around the stage, made loud inappropriate comments and flapped his arms, I fretted repeatedly about whether to take him out and whether he was spoiling it for everyone else.
What was breathtaking, was the way the actors immediately adapted what they were doing, to incorporate what Tim was experiencing and communicating with his behaviour into the performance. In other words, they entered into Tim’s world rather than demanding that he enter theirs. Whether he was jumping, talking in a loud Cockney accent, or rocking back and forth, 2 actors worked with him to incorporate what he was bringing into the show.
It worked! He relaxed, he felt accepted for himself, he began to visibly enjoy the sensory games and humourous use of Shakespeare’s text. What’s more, the same was happening, in different ways, with all the other participants and actors.
After a while I noticed that I had relaxed too, both physically and mentally, in a way that almost never happens when I’m with Tim. My arms and legs had uncrossed, I was leaning forward, mesmerised, and smiling. I could relax because Tim was with people who really “got” him and understood how to work with autism.
At one point, an actor tapped a repeated single chime on a bell, and in the ensuing silence each participant in turn closed their eyes and turned to follow the direction of the sound. This was a spellbinding, beautiful moment with everyone in the room intensely focussed on each child. The silence and calm was magical. It felt almost religious, as though a sacred space had been created, within which something transformative was happening”. Parent of Tim (18)
“Flute theatre’s inclusive production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was amazing.
The Director and actors used the best of the strategies that we as therapists and educators know work so well to support these children and young people to engage, enjoy the experience and shine.
It was wonderful to see how the parents and carers could enjoy and be proud of their children. A magical experience all round!” Jane Chapman. Specialist Speech and Language Therapist
Up to fifteen children, young people and adults on the spectrum become the participants for each performance, sitting with six actors in a circle on our stage. The families or carers sit just behind them to watch from the auditorium. They can join in the games if they wish. The actors invite the participants to help them unravel Shakespeare’s story through sensory games which everyone plays together. Although the games and the narrative remain the same for each performance, the show is completely different each time depending on the nature of the young people who attend. After each performance everyone is invited for tea and biscuits with the cast. There is never a rush to leave.
Director Kelly Hunter
Designer Daisy Blower
Producer Emma Groome
Company Stage Manager Paula Salmon