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Victoria theatre group hosts sensory productions for youngest audiences

The Story Theatre Company is presenting Baby Theatre for young audiences ranging from newborns to two years of age. The Story Theatre Company is presenting Baby Theatre for young audiences ranging from newborns to two years of age.

A new form of theatre is in its infancy but growing in Victoria, although it has been captivating audiences in other parts of the world for years.

The Story Theatre Company is presenting Baby Theatre, which is the latest trend offering sensory theatre for young audiences ranging from newborns to two years of age.

The show is an opportunity for the very young to interact with different elements of music and sound during the performance, inviting them to touch and play their way through the experience.

“It’s a lot of dance and physical theatre and non-verbal type performance,” says Erica Petty, the artistic producer for the Story Theatre Company and creator of Baby Theatre locally.

“The kids, the way they get so captivated, really becomes a show in itself as well, so there’s a lot of improv, a lot of movement.”

Around eight years ago, Petty was becoming a mother herself and started to get curious about a worldwide trend in making theatre for both young audiences and people with disabilities, called Sensory Theatre.

“What I saw was that these makers were building an elaborate environment and allowing caregiv ctv news vancouver island ers and the very young to play within it, and the result was the ultimate form of collaboration between performer and audience," she says. "Work that’s co-created with youth has always been the type of work I’m drawn to making myself. I was immediately hooked."

In 2020, Petty co-created an original production for babies and toddlers at the Metro Studio and learned a lot about the spontaneous, improvisational nature of children exploring and playing.

In 2022, she started work on her second Baby Theatre show called “Sound Garden.”

This past month, the Story Theatre Company began hosting drop-in play groups at Dance Victoria to allow Petty to continue her collaboration with the community's youngest audience members and figure out what works for this unique age group.

“If they’re into it, they’re into it and if they’re not you can tell,” says Petty, “So I think that’s what’s exciting about working on a work-in-progress like this is just figuring out what works and what doesn’t.”

So far, the audience reviews have been great she says.

“Honestly, they are the most fascinating audience and I haven’t had a cry yet, so very happy babies….so far.”

Petty says families who attend the drop-in groups can expect a relaxing and artistic environment to play in, where the lights are dimmed and music is played, and where she will simultaneously perform, play, connect and model non-verbal communication.

Baby Theatre play groups run every second Wednesday from 11 a.m.-to noon at Dance Victoria at 2750 Quadra Street: Feb 8, Feb 22, Mar 8, and Mar 22.

Space is limited to 12 families and the program is first come, first served. It runs by donation at the door, pay-what-you-can, for children ages 0-2 and their caregivers. Top Stories

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