Festival Hot Seat: Snigel and Friends
Join Snigel (leading UK disabled dancer Caroline Bowditch) the inquisitive snail in their cozy home underneath the leaf canopy; a colourful and sensory world, designed by Laura Hook, where Snigel's insect friends come to visit. We talked to co-creators Caroline Bowditch and Laura Hook about this inviting new work for children.
Firstly, can you introduce your show and tell us what it is about?
Snigel and Friends is an interactive sensory world for babies and their adults to explore. Snigel is an inquisitive snail who plays, dances, sings and makes music with their insect friends.
How and where will the work be staged?
The work will be performed at the Brighton Dome Founders Room. Babies and their adults join the cast in the undergrowth, sitting on mats and cushions under a magical leafy canopy.
Why should someone come and see your show?
There are very few shows that made specifically for babies this young. We worked with our ‘baby board’ to make sure we created the best possible environment for little ones to engage in the colours and live music of the undergrowth while interacting with the characters and the props.
Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The presence of visibly disabled performers in performance work targeted at young audiences is incredibly rare. Caroline has been working with Imaginate on the Weren’t You Expecting Me Project, taking a closer look at the impact, if any, that this may have on disabled and non-disabled children, particularly looking at the effect on aspirations, self-esteem and overall perceptions of disability. Snigel and Friends was created to address the lack of this kind of work for young people.
Laura has created a set that is built in proportion to Caroline, which also means all the action happens at perfect baby height. The leafy canopy creates a magical world that allows the audience to relax in the undergrowth.
Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?
It’s not necessarily the story that’s important, but more the overall experience. It’s an exercise in mindfulness and diversity that allows a positive theatre experience for parents and their wee ones.
What sort of person is going to love this show?
Babies who like bright colours, soothing sounds and making friends with slippery snails, singing cicadas, buzzing bees and beautiful butterflies.
What’s going to surprise people about this show?
That not only are babies welcome in the show, but they are free to wriggle around, make noise, be fed and interact with each other and the performers. At the end of the performance everyone is invited to come on stage to meet the characters and play with the props.
What does Brighton Festival mean to you?
This is the first time any of us from the company will be performing as part of Brighton Festival. The programme looks amazing and it’s so exciting to be part of it.
We are also excited to be performing with Brighton resident, dancer Welly O’Brien at the performances on 25th May and then can't wait to watch her perform in the outdoor piece ‘Dedicated to…’ - part of Weekend Without Walls - that Laura, Zac and myself made for Candoco Dance Company earlier this year.
What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?
The programme looks amazing and it’s so exciting to be part of it. We’re very much hoping we can be part of the party that is Brownton Abbey. Would also love to be in Andy Hamilton’s audience.