Once Upon a Wall: An interactive dance theatre performance for children and families

Research output: Non-textual formPerformance


Once Upon a Wall is an interactive dance theatre work for children and families. The piece is the culmination of two years of research and development with partners from TIN Arts (an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, which specialises in inclusive dance), Stockton International Riverside Festival, Middlesbrough Town Hall, and Priory Woods School (an all age community special school, which provides a quality, inclusive education for pupils with severe learning difficulties and those with profound and multiple needs) with the significant support of Arts Council England. 


Adopting robust research on interactive theatre (Machon), theatre for children (Reason), and performance with and for children with additional needs (Benjamin), the show develops through practice methods to empower, include and celebrate young audiences. In particular, the work develops and extends Gilbert’s research on collaboration and problem solving as an approach to idea and concept exploration, the use of props and costume to stimulate self-expression and interaction (de Tord & Bräuninger) and choice and autonomy (Nagel & Hovik), extending these concepts to develop understanding of how interactive theatre can impact wellbeing in children 


Research developed through the making of this work has been shared at All Young Stories Symposium 2019 (Keele University, United Kingdom), Out of the Frame: International Theatre Forum and Conference 2019 (Cluj, Romania) and published in ArtsPraxis (Essex, J. (2019). Co-operative Make-Believe as Practice in Children’s Interactive Dance Theatre. ArtsPraxis, 6(1), 111-119). 


The work has been selected for performance at 3 international festivals in the UK, (audiences numbers upwards of 1500).  The work has been identified as having a profound effect on SEND students at Priory Woods School by Director of Creative and Performing Arts Lisa Connor. 


The work was described as transformative in its balance of performative and participatory by Martin Wilson, Executive Director of Tin Arts. 

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2019
EventSalisbury International Arts Festival - Salisbury, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Jun 20191 Jun 2019

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