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Creating with the Cart/Sensory LAB

Creating with the Cart was launched in 2014, as a development of Dream: the joy of creating. This practice-based research and artist-development project used a residency model, to enable theatre-makers, therapeutic practitioners and teachers to work with award winning theatre company Oily Cart. Exploring their ground-breaking approach to making theatre for children and young people with complex needs, in a special school setting.

The project, a collaboration between Oily Cart and Jeremy Harrison, Head of the Rose Bruford College TYA Centre, ran annually between 2014 and 2019, before developing into Sensory LAB in August 2020.

Since its inception the project has seen over 100 participants engaging directly from countries including the USA, Canada, Sweden, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Japan, Belgium, France, Australia, Ireland and all parts of the UK. It has directly impacted over 200 staff and pupils from our two host special schools: Linden Lodge, London and Wyvern School, Ashford, Kent. With further impact on countless young people with complex needs around the world, as a result of legacy work undertaken by participants.

Creating with the Cart Participant Case Studies:

Eva von Hofsten, Founder and Project Director or Sen:se, Sweden

“These five days changed my life... it made me question all my previous knowledge and experience. I'm just one person, but it was because of the 'Creating with the Cart' that I'm doing this now”.

Eva was a participant in Creating the Cart in 2015. At that time, she was an actress who was “searching for a new path.” The course impact was profound as she returned to Sweden compelled to pursue this direction of work. However, there was a lack of programmes, training and expertise in the field across the country so she began the work by herself. She gained public funding to facilitate a pilot project in 9 local special schools which was followed by substantial funding from the Swedish Lottery and Swedish Arts Council funding for Scen:se. This was a multi-stakeholder collaboration, which invited several artists and an academic to create sensory experiences and inclusive theatre productions with Swedish actors. These productions and exhibitions toured over to 10 cities over 30 performances. She is now an actress, project director, fundraiser, facilitator, researcher, curator and champion for sensory work and inclusive performances for children and young people with complex needs, profound and multiple learning disabilities and on the autistic spectrum in Sweden.

Margot Marie Wood, Lecturer in Educational Drama, University of Cape Town, Founder of Storywood.

This has been for me, professionally, completely life changing. It’s taken my work in a direction that I never planned or anticipated This kind of work is completely unknown here in South Africa… nobody has really done a complete programme for children with sensory needs specifically. The training for actors I devised was absolutely based on the training which I had received through Oily Cart and Rose Bruford.“

Margot was an Educational Drama lecturer at Cape Town University. In 2018 she participated in Creating with the Cart and on her return to South Africa she when on to devise a programme for children on the Autism spectrum with her theatre company Storywood Theatre but she found that this area of work simply didn’t exist. There were no actors who were trained which prompted her create a six-month training programme for actors based on the training from Creating with the Cart. This included sensory work and culminated in devising work for children with complex needs. The resulting production ”Sail Away” toured the country with 66 performances. She has also started a PhD which was inspired by the work with Creating the Cart and her subsequent work with Storywood Theatre . *

*With thanks to Mita Pujara for her work on assessing the impact of this work.

Further Testimony:

Amanda West Lewis (participant 2014) blog, access here ︎︎︎

ASSITEJ: watching wonderful work 2019, access here︎︎︎