Frozen Light Theatre create theatre performances for those with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties. The company strive to create multi sensory performances which are engaging and accessible for audiences who can’t always access mainstream theatre.
Their current production of Home is a tale of unexpected friendship that handles adult themes of separation and loss. Through their use of music, sound, lighting and visual stimuli, they create pieces of theatre that are immersive for those with PMLD.
The Stage reviewed that ‘The really ingenious thing about this show by Frozen Light is that it speaks to all five senses…It takes a very special sort of talent to work appropriately – thinking all the time on your feet – with a potentially unpredictable audience. These three have it in spades.’
I caught up with the company to ask them a few questions before their upcoming visit to Arlington.
Sara: You both have a great passion for making theatre more accessible, what do you think it is about theatre that means it has been a little exclusive before?
Frozen Light: I think many of the things that make theatre exclusive are to do with the accepted conventions of being an audience. In traditional theatre, audiences are asked to sit still in silence in the dark and pretend they are not there. For our audiences with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD) this is something that they cannot do. Our audiences often need to make involuntary noise or move around. By removing this demand, you immediately take away the barriers that not only people with PMLD face when accessing the theatre but people with other types of disabilities and mental health issues as well.
How challenging is it to create pieces of theatre that are appropriate age wise and for those with PMLD?
Often it can be challenging to create shows that are age appropriate for our audience whilst also being suitable for their needs. As a company though it is really important for us to create age appropriate work. HOME is for audiences 13+ with PMLD, this doesn’t mean that there is anything inappropriate for a younger audience in it, but that we might explore themes that are more adult. For example, HOME explores feelings of loss and separation which are quite adult themes. We aim to tell an adult story but use our multi-sensory methods to make this appropriate for our audience’s needs.
Do you enjoy bringing your shows to Arlington Arts Centre?
Arlington Arts Centre have been a great supporter of Frozen Light since our first tour. We have a very enthusiastic audience in Newbury and love coming to Arlington Arts Centre to revisit audiences that have supported our work since the beginning.
What was the best part about your creation of Home?
During the creation of HOME we gave ourselves much more time than we ever have before to focus on the music. We really enjoyed this process and feel that it has led to much fuller songs in the show.
Where do the ideas come from in making your performances interactive and engaging?
We love to play and love exploring the world in a sensory manner. We find inspiration for sensory ideas all over the place. Usually the sensory ideas evolve out of the story we want to tell our audience. With HOME we were very inspired by science fiction art and stories, and wanted to create an environment that was other worldly. Creating this world allowed us to explore different sensory ideas.
Do you find that smaller audiences affect your performance in a way that makes it different for you as a performer compared to more conventional theatre shows?
We find that smaller audiences make for a show that is much more fun for us as performers. Having a small audience means that it really feels like everyone is in it together, both performer and audience alike. The show feels much more real and you get to see every audience’s reaction up close. This means that you immediately know if your audience is engaged or not. It allows you to alter your performance on the spot to help your audience get the most enjoyment out of the show as possible.
A difficult question but, which production that you have created and performed has been your favourite so far?
Ooh this is hard but I would have to say our newest show HOME is my favourite. We worked with a much larger creative team on HOME and this has meant that the production values are much higher. Saying that though The Forest will always hold a place in my heart as it was such a magical story.
With all the success you have had with your past and present production, where are you going next as a company? Do you already have a new production in the pipeline after Home has finished its tour?
Although we are only at the beginning of our epic 41 venue tour we do already have our next show in the pipeline. We discovered cymatics, which I can only describe as visualising sound and knew that we needed to explore this further. We have always wanted our audience especially those with sensory impairments to be able to feel the music. Cymatics seems like a great way to explore this. We will keep you posted.
You can keep up to date with our work through social media
f: /frozenlighttheatre.com t: @frozentheatre i: @frozenlighttheatre
Frozen Light are here on the 9th March and have already sold out! If you want to find out where else they are performing take a look at their website for tour dates.
We look forward to having them here for a day of performances.