Bamboozle Theatre Company

Bamboozle Theatre Company (UK) @ Copyright: Bamboozle Theatre Company

The British Council and National Arts Council presented internationally acclaimed Bamboozle Theatre Company’s (UK) The Bamboozle Approach, an exceptional approach to making theatre for children with autism and complex disabilities.

Between 19 and 21 September, Artistic Director Christopher Davies and trainer Nicole Arkless conducted a series of exclusive hands-on workshops. 

The Bamboozle Approach is a propriety 2-day training methodology aimed at training artists, arts educators, SPED educators and families who wish to engage students who have learning difficulties. The methodology helps the emotional, behavioral and cognitive development of children with learning disabilities. The training is applicable to both school and artmaking. A total of 70 participants attended the 3 workshops.

Participant Feedback:
"The Bamboozle workshop was great! I feel my practice in inclusive arts is now refreshed and invigorated. What I found most valuable was learning non-verbal encouragement, having a commitment compassion & sensitivity to participants/audience during performance and that these can be applied in a broader performing arts context beyond theatre."

"I will be incorporating the Bamboozle approach into my work with music engagement. I will be initiating more projects to include inclusive elements for people with disability, such as sensory friendly performances."

"The training has made reflect on my current practice and given me new tools to approach my students and work."

"I am now able to understand more about how to handle certain situations appropriately, improvise methods and know creative ways to use everyday materials to make an ENABLED SPACE."

Workshop Details

19 Sept (Tuesday): The Bamboozle SPED Workshop
The SPED track was developed to equip special education teachers with methodologies to inspire their teaching and introduce them to basic drama techniques for the classroom. Some of the learning points included how to engage students and keep their attention and interest in the classroom, how to keep them focused and most importantly, how to create a space for students to learn easily and without fear of judgment. The participants were from a range of special education schools and organisations, some with arts education backgrounds.

20 Sept (Wednesday): Foundational Bamboozle Approach Workshop
The Foundation track was created for artists new to working in the special needs sector. The  workshop introduced participants to the Bamboozle Approach and provided a basic foundation study on how to work inclusively in the theatre. Attendees were experienced artists or venue programmers who work in the mainstream arts sector but are keen to gain more experience in working with people with disabilities. The participant mix was designed to ensure that artists could network with venues or institutions and vice versa.  The workshop introduced participants to the principles of relaxed (sensory-friendly) vs immersive performances for children with special needs and an introduction to some of Bamboozle’s creative methodologies and principles when creating work for children with special needs.

21 Sept (Thursday)Advance Bamboozle Approach Workshop
Aimed at artists already working in the SPED sector, the Advanced track was customized to include issues such as growing and sustaining companies like Bamboozle, ethics and an introduction to the Bamboozle Approach. The session was designed to impart organizational development knowledge, with the afternoon session dedicated to more hands-on practical work. The outcomes were for participants to leave with an understanding of how they can grow arts companies in the SPED community and to be introduced to the Bamboozle Approach. Participants were artists with significant track record in the inclusive sector and artists with some background in special education but who had not translated their experience into a theatrical setting. Venue programmers were also included in the final participant list. Like the Foundation workshop, the participant mix was designed to ensure that artists could network with venues or institutions and vice versa. The long term goal would be to cultivate a holistic ecosystem where both artists and programmers / arts managers work together to create a more inclusive arts community.

About Bamboozle Theatre Company

Bamboozle Theatre Company was founded in 1994 by Christopher Davies and Sue Pyecroft, since then we have been delivering magical, memorable, multi sensory experiences for children and young people with moderate to profound learning difficulties as well as those with emotional and behavioural difficulties. We have built a strong reputation for the quality and integrity of our work. The impact can be transformational; from helping an individual child with extremely challenging behaviour to stay in a room, work with others and contribute their own ideas to supporting whole families to connect and play together to effecting the attitudes and practice at a whole school level.

About Christopher Davies (Artistic Director)

Christopher Davies is a director, writer and educator and co-founded Bamboozle Theatre Company in 1994. As Artistic Director, Christopher writes and directs the company’s touring shows, runs the acclaimed training programme, facilitates Bamboozle’s residencies for schools and families, produces resources for use in schools, and is developing Bamboozle’s “ways to engage students with Autism” programme

Christopher continually seeks ways in which we can improve our methods of communication with young people for whom making themselves understood is a daily and life-long challenge.

After 13 years teaching in primary schools, Christopher spent an inspiring year at The Central School of Speech and Drama in London. He then joined the Leicestershire Drama Advisory Service where he ran courses for teachers, worked in special schools and set up youth theatres for students with learning difficulties. He has tutored on Leicester University’s MA drama course, run INSET courses nationally and led training workshops for many organisations including The National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe. As a director, he has created work for the London and Edinburgh Fringe and toured internationally.