Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Sensory O, opera initiative

Calming the savage [little] beasts?

While you're practising your arias, you may wonder if the fruits of your labour could have anything pertinent to parents with toddlers.  (Screams, tantrums, trainer pants - ah, the happy memories!)

According to the Sensory O initiative, it might be more relevant than you think.  Here's a BBC report about it:- click here.  (Feature by Pauline McLean.)

  • Scottish Opera Sensory O website (Rachel Drury, composer to the project, is also a doctoral student and member of staff at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.)
  • Opera Scotland website - details of the Sensory O Tour.
  • Last year's Tete a Tete, the earlier Baby O project, again featuring our own Rachel Drury.
You might also be interested in the work of another of our students, Ben Fletcher-Watson, Theatre for Babies.  (This link tells you about Oily Cart's latest production: 'Oily Cart: how to prepare your toddler for a trip to the theatre')


Ben Fletcher-Watson said...

For students and emerging artists, I think the field of performing arts for under-3s is incredibly exciting. I've spoken to CPP students about their collaboration with Libellule Theatre on a project for wee ones, and it's noticeable that, where once they would have been interested in Theatre in Education work, theatre for babies is now the in-thing. Roger Wooster's book, 'Contemporary Theatre in Education' (2007), outlines the slow decline of TiE since the early 1980s; I began my own career with a TiE company, and observed it first-hand: the reliance on old scripts and familiar schools, scrabbling for funding when the genre fell out of favour with Arts Council officials, outdated production values, tenuous links to the curriculum distorting the work, etc.

Theatre for Early Years is enjoying a boom (there's a graph on my Tumblr showing the enormous rise in the past decade), and I would urge anyone interested in education work to consider creating pieces for babies, toddlers, nurseries and preschool. Catch 'em young!

Rachel Drury said...

SensoryO is an opera for 2 distinct audiences: toddlers between 18 and 36 months, and primary aged children with additional support needs. It is designed to stimulate a range of senses using sights, sounds, smell and touch. The set has been specially designed to be ‘playable’ so that the children can explore it after the show. SensoryO is a follow on to BabyO which has enjoyed international success over the last 2 years. It was written for infants between the ages of 6 to 18 months and my focus as composer was to try to write something that this age group could ‘copy’ - all of the lyrics are initial consonant and vowel sounds and specific pitch patterns have been used that are relatively easy for infants of this stage to produce. My doctoral research explored the effects of music on language development and this angle has had a sizeable impact on my approach to writing the 2 shows. For further info, look at the Scottish Opera website or email me at