NEWS | Michelle Hovane reports on the 2017 ASSITEJ World Congress

Posted by Cecile Lucas, June 20th, 2017

Sensorium Theatre Co-Artistic Director Michelle Hovane recently attended the 2017 ASSITEJ World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, with five other Australian delegates as part of the Australian Council’s ASSITEJ 2017 Youth Arts Leadership Delegation. The nine-day long seminar comprised a Festival, a Conference and a World Congress, all dedicated to theatre for young audiences. As the only delegate from WA, Michelle happily answered to our questions about what she gained from this international experience, as well as sharing some great tips for anyone attending similar showcase events.


You just came back from attending the 2017 ASSITEJ World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. Can you tell us a bit more about this event?

ASSITEJ unites theatres, organisations and individuals from around the world who make theatre for children and young people so that they can share knowledge and practice within the field of theatre for children and young people in order to deepen understandings, develop practice, create new opportunities and strengthen the global sector. This year the decision-making congress, performance festival and research conference were all included in the “Cradle of Creativity” – which took place over 2 weeks in Cape Town, South Africa. This was the first time ASSITEJ was hosted on the African continent.


As an Artistic Director of a small company and a performer, what are the benefits of attending such event, and what impact does it have on your personal practice?

What a privilege to be part of this feast of performance, conversation and networking! Coming from a small company based in an isolated city, it was truly mind blowing to take the pulse of theatre making for children and young people internationally and be included in a global community of people who are passionate about the cultural access and rights of the next generation.  I felt deeply nourished, challenged, inspired and affirmed – it was like soul food to keep going and doing the work that I do.


Zick Zack Puff by Cie Mafalda (Switzerland)


How prepared were you before heading to South Africa? What advice would you give to anyone attending a similar event?

The programme for the Cradle of Creativity festival, conference and congress was overwhelming. I was enormously lucky to be part of the youth arts leadership delegation and guided by other more experienced Australian delegates and our Australia Council host Kevin Du Preez. For a month prior to the conference I was drip fed snippets of the program and slowly identified the shows, researched workshops and events that were my priority. However, nothing could prepare me for the full glory and chaos of the event itself! I think it is a good idea to have a quick summary of who you are and what you do for the inevitable speed-dating aspect of the networking – having this meant I could quickly identify delegates who I wanted to deepen the conversation with and vice versa. As part of the arts leadership delegation we were encouraged to connect deeply with three people and have three deep learnings and this also helped to focus things a bit.


Did you see any amazing shows and/or productions that resonate with the work that Sensorium Theatre does?

I saw many amazing shows and productions, and part of my agenda in attending the Festival was simply to see as many diverse works as I could, even if they had no obvious connection with Sensorium Theatre.

My favourite show was an electrifying production of Animal Farm performed by black South African women and directed by Shakesperience Productions. I also met Karolina Zernyte, Artistic Director of Theatre of the Senses, a company based in Lithuania, whose work resonated with the work we do in Sensorium Theatre. I was intrigued by some of the work for babies and the very young. I connected with members of IIAN – International Inclusive Arts Network. I also discovered that in the majority world, children with disabilities are often extremely disadvantaged in terms of resources and community attitudes – and it has set me wondering what Sensorium could do to assist those working for change.


Animal Farm by Shakesperience Productions (South Africa)


For you, what was the highlight of your whole week there?

The opening night of the festival was an extraordinary showcase of work from Africa and the Festival Director talked about theatre making as an Act of Love. This was very affirming for the work that we do in Sensorium Theatre and for me personally as an artist. There was a huge sense of the centrality of arts and culture in that society and a feeling of being valued as an artist – in a time when we face an increase in populism, xenophobia and fear of otherness, there was a sense of urgency that we as artists and cultural workers have an important role in creating solidarity, inclusion and togetherness across and within our national boundaries.

Theatre of the Senses(Lithuania)

CALL OUT | Work with Sensorium Theatre

Posted by Thom Smyth, May 17th, 2016

Sensorium Theatre is seeking a Performer to join our eight-week regional WA tour of the sensory theatre production Oddysea, with the potential for ongoing engagement with the company beyond this project. The tour will commence on 1 August and finish on 23 September.

Sensorium’s mission is to improve the lives of children and young people with disabilities by sparking their imaginations and enabling greater creative responses. We do this by creating high quality immersive workshop and sensory theatre experiences that they can enjoy as audiences.

Currently the only company in Australia making work for this neglected audience, Sensorium Theatre have recently performed at flagship venues: the Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne. This year we are touring Oddysea regionally and have a national tour secured for 2017.


Performer – Ideally you would be a multi-talented performer who is passionate about storytelling and inclusion, and are committed to socially-engaged arts practice. We work as an ensemble delivering workshops, performances, and professional development sessions for venues and teachers.

While you will receive full instruction on Sensorium Theatre’s performance and workshop methodology, experience in this area will be looked upon favourably. The production includes puppetry, singing, and participatory performance – click here to watch a video about Oddysea.


We require a one-page cover letter and your resume. Your cover letter should outline why you wish to work with Sensorium and how your experience will contribute to a successful production and tour. Shortlisted applicants will then be invited to audition. Applications close COB Fri 27 May. Send applications to Sensorium Theatre’s producers Performing Lines WA – details below.

Producer contact: Rachael Whitworth | 08 9200 6232


Fri 27 May  | Applications due
Fri 3 June   | Shortlisted applicants notified
Fri 10 June | Auditions
Aug – Sept  | Rehearsals and tour

Filed under Sensorium Theatre

Oddysea by Sensorium Theatre. Image by Jessica Wyld Photography.

Sensorium Theatre National Tour 2017

Posted by Thom Smyth, April 7th, 2016

We are very excited to announce that Sensorium Theatre have received the Australia Council Playing Australia grant! This means Oddysea is hitting the road with a national tour in 2017.

Oddysea is a sensory performance for children with special needs. Inside an ocean installation the audience is led through an underwater adventure where touch, taste and smell are as important as sight and sound in the storytelling process.

Building on the success of their 2015 tour to Arts House Melbourne and the Sydney Opera House, Oddysea will head to eight venues across Australia in 2017 for a nine week road trip to regional areas in  South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales.



The Sensorium crew have had a busy couple of years with Oddysea, in a few months they will be touring through Regional WA with thanks to BOOST Funding. Our main marketing man Thom along with Frankie and Michelle from Sensorium just wrapped up a pre tour in Kalgoorlie, Merredin, Esperence and Geraldton to meet the venues before they arrive in August and September.



WA Regional Tour Dates 
Workshops and performance details will be announced soon.
10 – 12 August | Koorliny Arts Centre
17 – 20 August | Cummins Theatre, Merredin
24 – 27 August | Queens Park Theatre, Geraldton
31 Aug – 3 Sep | Mandurah Performing Arts Centre
7 – 10 September | Bunbury
14 – 17 September | Esperance
21 – 24 September | Kalgoorlie


Oddysea news!

Posted by Thom Smyth, September 9th, 2015

We’re very excited to announce we just received word that Sensorium Theatre will be taking Oddysea on the road again thanks to the DCA Boost regional tour funding.

Taking in Mandurah, Bunbury, Esperance, Kalgoorlie, Merredin and Geraldton in 2016, this will be the first time children with special needs in WA will have access to this amazing sensory theatre production.

So excited for Sensorium and the team – big congrats!

ODDYSEA – on the road

Posted by Thom Smyth, September 8th, 2015

Sensorium Theatre has taken over the East Coast with a successful tour of Oddysea at Arts Centre Melbourne and The Sydney Opera House.

Francis Italiano of Sensorium Theatre, shares with us his experience on the Oddysea tour. Below is a snippet into what happened on the tour that he didn’t expect and what was the best pick for food!

Francis Italiano 03/09/2015

As theatre makers, we’re often going on about the transformative power of arts experiences – and Sensorium frequently has observers delighting at the surprising effect of our immersive storyworlds on our young audiences with disabilities.  What was particularly exciting in Sydney was seeing the ripple of transformation extending outwards to the circles of carers and other observers who joined our sensory world in different ways. As well as presenting performances at “the house”, our Sydney season saw us deliver outreach workshops to schools across Sydney, joint SOH/MCA masterclasses for both artists with disabilities as well as artists & educators engaging this community and… a hands-on Sensory PD Session for the Opera House Front of House Staff…

The Sydney Opera House is a formidable machine, with hundreds of staff from many areas keeping this icon chugging along, with the Front of House staff usually the first point of contact for anyone looking to be transformed. They’ve already done a lot to improve accessibility to their programme for people with disabilities, but they decided that hosting a company who specifically designs work for this audience was a good opportunity to give their Front of House staff some insight into the kinds of techniques we use to really engage with audiences who often approach things from a different perspective than their usual patrons.

Early in our season, the designated staff members turned up, and for the most part, were up for taking off their shoes, being blindfolded, and taken on a sensory journey by our team. One particularly dapper older European gentlemen, a proud staff member of 30+ years standing, balked at the weirdness of it all, opting to observe from the sidelines and reserve his judgement of what we were all about until he’d seen us in action with the kids in one of the shows. Watching his own personal transformation as he got caught up in the infectious energy of the kids with special needs, experiencing their wonder at the imaginary world he was helping us provide for them, was beautiful. Over the course of the season, he was always one of the first to put on the beach-comber hats we’d brought for the Front of House staff to greet the kids with, each day offering another suggestion of where else in the world we should tour to, and finally coming in one morning excitedly with “Franki! Franki! I haff good idea for next show!” I’d say he was transformed.

We fell in love with the THAI food in Sydney, something that is hard to find authentic exponents of in Perth. Home – around the corner, casual and vibey was yummy, fragrant and surprising and easily the company favourite, suiting our mix of vegetarians and meat lovers. On our final day after completing 3 shows AND a BUMP OUT we headed there for a well-earned feast.

Check out some pictures from the tour and the interview with Francis on ABC Breakfast!

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