Final ‘Reassembled…’ focus group feedback

Reassembled… has gone through a lengthy development process; from April– December 2014, over 75 people from the medical, arts and community/voluntary sectors heard sections and and provided their feedback in small focus groups, mostly at the MAC (Belfast).

Some of the most recent participants work for Stroke Association (NI), Royal Victoria Hospital, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Accidental Theatre, and the MAC. I also had the unique experience of testing a section at the British Association of Neurological Nurses Conference in Manchester (Oct 2014), with Colin Williamson, Head Injury Nurse at the Belfast Trust, who is one of the biomedical advisors on the project, and was present throughout my time as an in-patient in Ward 4F.

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Testing ‘Reassembled, Slightly Askew’ at the British Association of Neurological Nurses Conference with chairs, not beds

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One participant opted for the carpeted floor

“Time flies in.”

“Helps you to empathise with the patient experience.”

“The staff [in the hospital] were extremely attentive and caring in meeting Shannon’s needs. it was insight to be part of Shannon’s journey.”

“I want to bring the whole team in and say, ‘You think you know what it’s like but your don’t.”

“A great teaching tool for families.”

“I found the experience to be extremely insightful…the sounds were amazing, very realistic. I did feel that I was inside Shannon’s head, trying to make sense of the world going on around me. Great piece of work–thank you.”

“Will make me think about the environment and noises, how I speak and communicate with patients.”

“A real eye-opener.”

“We do it day in and day out, but do we explain enough?…would alter what you tell someone…”

“You can never know what it’s like…you feel like you’ve got a tiny bit of understanding…”

“Found the continuous noises bombarding–very different from what you experience as a staff member”

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The artistic team meets (L to R): Paul Stapleton (sonic artist), Stevie Prickett (choreographer), Hanna Slattne (dramaturg), Matilde Meireles (sonic project support), Anna Newell (director)

With production of the immersive sonic artwork nearly finished, the focus is now on securing Reassembled… into galleries/theatre spaces for the general public and training settings for biomedical professionals to experience the finished piece throughout 2015.

 

This development has been made possible by a Wellcome Trust Small Arts Award and an Arts & Disability Award Ireland.

Early years, cognitive schema and poetry slams

When I was in college, I loved poetry slams and their poets. The diversity of the performers and the topics they voiced contrasted what I has studied in the traditional English curriculum from my mainly white, suburban Boston high school. The way the poets, such as Sarah Jones, Stayceyann Chin, Saul WilliamsJessica Care MooreBeau Si, and Taylor Mali made the language come alive and vibrant as they summon a ferocity greater than themselves.

Years later, I’m in Northern Ireland, writing a poetry slam show for 3-5 year olds. WIGGLEGIGGLE is the vision of Anna Newell of Replay Productions, co-produced by Nottingham Playhouse, with original music by David Goodall and choreography by Stevie Prickett. A ‘Dr Seuss meets hip-hop’ creation, WIGGLEGIGGLE aims to excite its audiences with its silly sounds, bouncing rhythms, fun free-styling, word-smithery, and tricky tongues. It’s been in development since Feb 2014, with periods of creative consultation with 3-5 year olds in the Belfast area.

(L to R) Cathy Walsh, Stephen Clarke, Doireann McKenna warm up with Dr. Seuss

(L to R) Cathy Walsh, Stephen Clarke, Doireann McKenna warm up with a Dr. Seuss freestyle

(L to R) Cathy Walsh, Stephen Clarke, Doireann McKenna warm up with Dr. Seussphoto 3The process of creating WIGGLEGIGGLE has been incredibly intricate, where the artistic team has constructed a show based on patterns–the building blocks of  communication, movement, and language development.  Without being conscious of it, we are moving all the time to internal patterns and rhythms, such as our heartbeat. These cadences of the brain and nervous system appear to play an important role in everything from walking to thinking, as Jon Hamilton covers in the June 2014 NPR article, Your Brain’s Got Rhythm, And Syncs When You Think.

We’ve also integrated the cognitive processes of learning–termed as ‘schema’ by the well-known child developmental theorist, Jean Piaget– and how our brains build relationships between information we know and new information. These underpin the linguistic progression of the show, how the text moves from aspirated ‘Pppfff’ sounds to whole phrases and poems.

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Stevie Prickett (choreographer) and Anna Newell (director) work out movement with the actors

In creating WIGGLEGIGGLE, we also integrated traditional poetic conventions, such as alliteration (a fantastic example of which is Daniel Radcliffe, yes Harry Potter, on Jimmy Fallon doing Blackalicious’ ‘Alphabet Aerobics’:

And onomatopoeia–an excellent example is The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak:

WIGGLEGIGGLE is currently on tour in Nottingham, courtesy of Nottingham Playhouse, and will return for a run in Belfast as part of the Children’s Festival in Spring 2015. Already we’re hearing feedback that during the performances the children are engrossed, mesmerized, mimicking movement, and having a fantastic time!