Republic Poly students create sensory-friendly theatre show
Students' production for children with special needs earns praise from both sides of Causeway
After watching sensory-friendly theatre performance Fatimah And Her Magic Socks last May, Republic Polytechnic student Aidie Fadlie, 21, was so inspired that he wanted to create his own.
He told The New Paper: "Children with special needs tend to move around due to their short attention span. Most theatre shows do not cater to them so I wanted to do something different."
He teamed up with fellow students Winnie Neo, 20, Basilia New, 21, Tan Xuan Yun, 21 and Xie Hui Ting, 22, to design a sensory-friendly theatre production for children affected by autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities as part of their final year project.
Titled How Singapore Got Its Name, the production was among the 54 projects at the polytechnic's School of Technology for the Arts (STA) graduation showcase last week.
The production caters to children with special needs who are sensitive to darkness and loud noises.
For instance, loud and sudden sounds as well as harsh and flashing lights were reduced in a thunderstorm scene, in order not to startle and cause discomfort to the children.
Sensory-friendly props and costumes were used for children to interact with during the show.
Like a tree prop was made with scrunched cloth and pom poms while costumes were covered with colourful feathers.
Accommodated house rules also enabled audience members to talk and move around during the show.
Theatre doors were also left open throughout the show so the children could enter and leave at any time.
To develop the production, the team interviewed students and teachers from schools for children with special needs such as Delta School and Rainbow Centre.
Miss Tan said: "We wanted to know how to appeal to their senses and understand the needs and reactions of the children."
Last May, the production was picked by arts festival CausewayEXchange, a platform for cross-cultural exchange for Singaporean and Malaysian artists.
The show ran in Singapore, as well as at the Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival.
Founder of CausewayEXchange Shawn Lourdusamy, 37, said: "The parents were all praises. Everyone had a smile on their faces, most importantly the parents could see the calmness in their kids during the production."
Mr Aidie said: "Productions like this are not common in the industry, and the fact ours was picked for CausewayEXchange makes me very proud."
STA acting assistant programme chair Samantha Bounaparte, 37, said: "Creating such projects are a niche and I'm so glad they're giving back to the community."
The team hopes to continue designing sensory-friendly theatre productions in the future.
Mr Aidie said: "Theatre can serve as an art and therapy, and we should not exclude that from children with special needs."