A unique Partnership with Queensmill School, Bush Theatre London and MA Acting UAL
Sunday the 16th September.
This morning, Marcus, our profoundly autistic 12 year old son said ‘YES drama today.’ Given that Kelly’s one week drama course was 6 weeks ago, and Marcus rarely if ever articulates anything, illustrates the profound effect it had on him. It was extraordinary, that week in the summer. I had deliberately stayed away for the first 4 days. Marcus is usually negatively distracted by my presence anywhere.
But Ed my elder son who joined Marcus on the course was evangelical about what the course was doing for Marcus, he kept telling me how he was sitting with the young actors, and actively seeking them out. Curiosity got the better of me, and I came with them on the last day.When I arrived on Friday morning I was ASTONISHED. I have never, ever seen Marcus behave the way he did. He was seeking out, sitting with and CUDDLING his new young adult pals, with whom he had obviously formed a strong bond in this short space of time. He was engaged, and inordinately happy.
I was trying to explain to my husband the significant difference in him, but it had to be seen to be believed. I cannot stress this enough, this engaged, entirely committed child was like no other version of Marcus I have ever seen.
He still beats his little chest to say hello and goodbye!
I have no idea what it was in those sessions which so grasped him, and awoke the part of him which wants to interact. I would LOVE to talk to someone about it. I just know it was the nearest I have seen him to ‘play’, if that makes sense. It is certainly the most communicative I have seen him.
My eldest son Ed was really affected by it. he is, to all intents and purposes, an only child. He loves his brother, but he doesn’t have a fraternal partner in crime. That week, he felt like he did. He loved the young actors, they were the perfect age for a 14 year old boy. He didn’t feel patronised, or like he was in a ‘special needs’ environment. (you would not believe some of the things we have done………) He felt involved, on a level, and had some great laughs. Which is very important to our family!
We all felt joyful, and grateful for the experience.
“The week with Kelly Hunter at the Bush Theatre has rendered me speechless and jerked me back to a place where I’ve felt so small and so big at the same time . Dealing with kids on the spectrum and taking them in almost non-verbal and watching them at the end of the week understanding language and rules of the game has been emotionally overwhelming. Making friends along the way was a major plus side and being able to not just love but feel loved has been completely revolutionary. I think everyone should be blessed with the opportunity to have a chance to play with these budding geniuses. It has given me something that cannot be described in words but that will hopefully show in my performances to come.”
MA DRAMA STUDENT
From a pedagogical point of view, this has been a remarkable project, where students get to learn practically about being completely alert, alive, responsive, playful, sensitive and fully ‘present’ as performers. Their teachers in this instance are the Queensmill children – and that relationship was revelatory for the students. It taught them something about ‘being in the moment’, lack of ego, loving and caring for each other and how acting can provide opportunities to create genuinely democratic spaces.
GEORGINA SOWERBY MA DRAMA UAL LONDON. COURSE LEADER
“Experiencing Flute’s work at Queensmill was an absolute joy. Seeing over 150 of our students connect, engage, transform and play in a totally new and unique way was inspiring. The majority of our young people’s autism is at the complex end of the spectrum and in being flexible, accepting and gentle they gained the trust of every young person who walked through the door. During the games, actors sensitively encouraged initiations from the children where they played with an array of communicative skills; facial expression, eye contact, language and spatial dynamics to name only a few. Many staff members were amazed at the degree to which children participated, especially those who often avoid such social contact. They instantly gained the trust of our staff, who then relaxed and were encouraged to play as much as the children!
HEAD OF DRAMA, QUEENSMILL SCHOOL
January 2nd,3rd and 4th 2019
Bush Theatre Studio Space
Christmas Holiday course of daily workshops.
September 2018 Drama Centre London
MA Drama Students UAL 2018-19 learn the Hunter Heartbeat games with Kelly Hunter
August 13th 2018. Bush Theatre Studio space.
One weeks summer holiday course of daily workshops led by Flute Theatre for children with autism and their families from Queensmill School.
The entire cohort of MA Drama Students UAL 2017-18 playing games of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
March 2018, Queensmill School
Flute took up a weeks residency at Queensmill School, rehearsing our production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in preparation for our performances at the Bridge Theatre London.
MA actors attended the rehearsals having had introductory workshops with Kelly Hunter in the Hunter Heartbeat method.