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VENUS BLAZING MUSIC AND THEATRE TRUST
GIANTS AND MASKS AT THE PARK THEATRE
  • GIANTS AND MASKS AT THE PARK THEATRE
    A DEVELOPMENT OF MUSIC AND THEATRE SKILLS WEEK FOR CHILDREN WITH DOWN SYNDROME Funded by the John Lyon’s Charity Continuing our work at The Park Theatre with our cohort of children with Down Syndrome and building on what we had developed in 2015 was at the heart of this successful Summer Programme. All children reapplied to take part and we also had two new members join the group. We now have a waiting list for future Programmes. What makes the work of the VBMT different from other organizations working in this field is the combination of professional input of the highest quality with the practical understanding that the leaders bring to the projects. Lou Stein and Deirdre Gribbin are parents to a 10-year-old boy with Down Syndrome. This personal practical knowledge and understanding of Down Syndrome is valued by the parents and carers. Overwhelming feedback indicates that as well as an appreciation for the level of skill offered to the children, The Park Theatre Summer Programme is perceived as a safe place and this is of tremendous value to VBMT.
  • OBJECTIVES & RESEARCH
    Many of the team building strategies used in 2015 meant that the group knew what to expect and there was a readiness to begin working on our chosen project with enthusiasm and focus. Taking the ‘Finn Mac Cool’ myth from Irish mythology each child was given a specific character trait to explore as a giant. (See video link to one of the children as the ‘strong giant’.) Using masks to effect change and to facilitate the notion of becoming someone else we explored the basics of commedia mask work. This programme saw the introduction of a new research strategy with a strong focus on quantifying and evaluating the impact to approaches in music making, ensemble playing and song development. Composer Deirdre Gribbin began collating research and evidence on the problems associated with singing as an ensemble, which is often a difficulty for both children and adults with Down Syndrome. She has begun quantifying this research. Throughout the week, Gribbin mentored students from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. They recorded and tabled the results. Gribbin is devising strategies to improve and develop ensemble singing.
  • OUTCOMES
    Using masks, participants were given a set of images and word characteristics associated with their particular giant. They grasped the notion of character development using this in performance, making individualized costumes and, in their contributions to a large group music Composition, which they performed at a sharing. This Programme pushed the boundaries for many of the participants. There was a definite step forward in terms of group understanding, respect and focus and in skills knowledge. It was encouraging to see how many skills had been absorbed from previous work This points to a strong pathway for building on key strengths for future work in terms of artistic output, enhanced research practice and on helping to inspire confidence and ability.
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