Making its World Premiere last year to great critical acclaim, with appearances on BBC Breakfast, BBC’s online news and the Today programme, Oily Cart are once again bringing the sights, sounds and smells of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem Kubla Khan to life in 2018 to take more intrepid young audience members on an epic journey. Together with the national charity Sense, Oily Cart transformed Coleridge’s rhythmically rich and vibrant poem into the company’s first ever production for children and young people who are deafblind, and are delighted to once again tour this fully immersive and inclusive theatrical experience around the UK from May 2018.
As one of the UK’s most innovative and ground-breaking young people’s theatre companies, Oily Cart is renowned for devising “all sorts of shows for all sorts of kids” and this production is no exception. In addition to creating their very first show for a young deafblind audience, playing with temperatures, taste and touch to tease out the poem’s lyrical and scent-infused language – from “the caves of ice” to “the milk of paradise” – Oily Cart have also created two other distinct versions of this same show for youngsters on the autism spectrum and for those with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities. Kubla Khan will tour to special schools around the UK and mainstream venues, including Stratford Circus Arts Centre and Derby Theatre. Performances at Rose Theatre Kingston will coincide with deafblind awareness week.
In keeping with the company’s trademark immersive and hands-on style, the audience for Kubla Khan will be centre stage at all times, right at the heart of each bespoke and tactile 55-minute show. Featuring three actors and one musician – kora player Kadialy Kouyate – the show will play to an audience of just six alongside their adult carers. The River Alph runs through the poem, binding it together, so central to Oily Cart’s multi-sensory production is a wonderfully carved and contoured channel which winds its way through the audience. The channel floods, drains, and fills with sand, water and ice while the aroma of incense drifts by; these tactile sensations will help to create the experience of a boat ride through the poem.
Written in 1797, and first published in 1816, Kubla Khan is hailed as one of Coleridge’s three great poems, along with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel. It is widely believed he wrote most of the poem immediately following a particularly vivid and lurid dream about Xanadu, the summer palace of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China, Kublai Khan. The rich and colourful metaphors of Coleridge’s writing, and their almost cinematic qualities, lend themselves perfectly for the complex and immersive needs of these audiences, as writer and director Tim Webb explains:
“One of the key reasons why I chose to work with this text, apart from the fact that it is filled with verbal descriptions crying out for multisensory interpretation, is that it is written in a rich and intricate style, featuring rapidly shifting points of view and characters and situations that defy ready definition. It offers a multitude of facets that can be appreciated both by the brain and the senses and is therefore perfect for deafblind audiences.”
KUBLA KHAN will embark on a UK wide tour from May to July 2018.
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fully accessible performance