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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Oddysea by Sensorium Theatre. Image by Jessica Wyld Photography.

An Oddysea to Mandurah

Posted by Thom Smyth, November 12th, 2014

Sensorium Theatre have packed up the beach and travelled down to the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre for a public pilot season of Oddysea.

Previously only available to children in Education Support Centres, we’ve opened the beach for children with special needs and their families and hosted our first early years performances, all with the assistance of Australian Government’s NGCS funding.

We’re trialling a new inclusive performance model that allows parents and siblings of children with disabilities to attend the performance as a family, along with a new method for delivering support materials including the soundtrack and story books.

The early years shows have also been a big hit – Crab and Turtle have met a whole new legion of fans!

We’re further refining both public shows and seeking presentation partners from 2015 and beyond.

Check the image gallery below to see some really lovely images from Jessica Wyld Photography.

Join Us At APACA

Posted by Thom Smyth, June 24th, 2014

The Performing Lines WA team will be at the APACA Conference in Hobart from 1 – 3 July presenting three breakout sessions of James Berlyn’s Crash Course, and an encounter session for Sensorium Theatre’s Oddysea.

Session details:

Crash Course
Royal Society Room – Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Producer Contact: Fiona de Garis

Wednesday 2 July | 11.35am – 12.35pm & 3.00pm – 4.00pm
Thurs 3 July | 1.45pm – 2.45pm


Mawson Room – HFCC
Producer Contact: Rachael Whitworth

Wednesday 2 July | 4.30pm – 5.15pm


Both Fiona and Rachael will be available, and Marketing Manager Thom Smyth will also be in attendance. Contact details?  Click here>>

Summer time Oddysea

Posted by Thom Smyth, November 27th, 2013

Sensorium Theatre’s co-artistic director, Francis Italiano, takes us through the background behind their new interactive performance for children with special needs – Oddysea.

Words: Francis Italiano Photo: Ashley de Prazer

In our previous show, The Jub Jub Tree, young audiences with special needs relished feeling grass and dirt underfoot in our luscious multi-sensory forest, and delighted in joining the animals they met who lived there. Encouraging them to be active participants in, rather than passive recipients of, the story became for us the cornerstone of Sensorium Theatre’s approach to “immersive” performance. In creating our new show ‘Oddysea’, the company was keen to explore this idea further and make the audience’s interactive experience even more dynamic and kinetic – not only taking them on a narrative journey, but seeing how we could enable them to undertake a physical journey of their own.

An odyssey is a journey or quest – traditionally heroic by nature – with one or more main characters reaching a goal after overcoming trials along the way…




For many of our audience, some of whom have little or no movement and are unable to speak, just getting through a single day can require heroic efforts. How then, to convey a sense of fun and adventure in a journey that they could be part of? Given Sensorium’s method of using sensory stimuli to create cognitive “ins” to a story for our audience within an immersive setting, we began to think about where we’d like that journey to take them, and what kind of sensory delights we might like to offer them along the way? Being a Fremantle-based company, we ended up at The Sea…

So, in Oddysea, we’ve invited children with special needs to come on a journey to explore the sights, sounds, textures, smells and tastes of the oceanic world, and revel in the sensuous joy of sun, sand and sea while encountering some of the beautiful, extraordinary and truly odd characters and creatures who call the sea home.

For the Creative Development of this new show, the company undertook what we now plan to be a template for making our future new works; that is, after an initial brainstorming period for the creative team to establish our framework and objectives, we went on to directly collaborate with a representative spectrum of our intended audiences for the rest of the devising and creation period. Basing ourselves at Kenwick School for the duration of the development over a whole term, we alternated artists’ collaborative devising days with hands-on workshop-style days with the kids and staff in a kind of experiential dramaturgy -where we trialed different story ideas, variations of the live original music and instrumentation, and prototypes of interactive props, puppets and settings with them – adjusting, tweaking, jettison-ing and re-inventing based on their responses and direct feedback. The usually exciting collaborative experience of a creative development was amplified incredibly by having the kids in on the process – if an idea was a dud, then the audible “thud” when it crashed was totally palpable from our harshest critics, but if an idea had wings, then watching it soar, propelled by their enthusiasm, was beyond beautiful. Several of the songs from the score were inspired by the kids and the ending was directly influenced by one class in particular. It seems so obvious in retrospect, but what better way to fashion immersive worlds than to interact directly with the audience you want to invite into them as you are creating them?



Working with the kids in a mock-up of our proposed set, using approximations of the final puppets and props, also allowed us to tackle the practical question of how best to physically convey a journey. Since many of our audience have limited physical mobility, in “Oddysea” we’ve explored “bringing” the journey to them, at times using happily old-school theatre  techniques such as “travelling” set-pieces and puppets/performers past them, and at others taking them on mini-promenades – literally propelling them along the slippery gold-satin “sand” if necessary. Wherever possible, children are taken out of their wheelchairs. In the finished version of the show, as we set off from the beach and the kelp-lined rock pools of the shoreline recede, accompanied by sea-shell rattles and steel-drum conch-shells, our principal characters, Crab & Turtle, encourage the audience to go ever further on their Oddysea. Having taken us up on our offer, the kids are treated to multiple transformations of the space before the tactile extravaganza of a crocheted coral reef unfurls before them and they arrive at their destination.

The journey the audience and artists take together is truly an odyssey. After such a rich development, enthusiastic test audiences and a promising start to our pilot tour, we decided our preferred mode of transportation – sensory stimuli, imaginary play, and intimate immersive interaction – is the only way to travel!

The Sensorium Theatre artists are highly skilled in working with children with special needs. Audience size is limited to 12 so that individual learning abilities can be catered for and experiences can be maximised. Performing Lines WA can create a performance package tailored to your needs, from the full 7-day residency to a one-off performance.

2013 School Tour: Kalamunda ESC and Sir David Brand School
2014 School Tour: Malibu School, Gladys Newton School, Carson Street School, Durham Road School, Creaney ESC, Beldon ESC, Merriwa ESC, Gwynne Park ESC

Please note there are no public performances of Oddysea. If you would like Sensorium Theatre to visit your school, please contact rachael@performinglineswa.org.au to discuss the range of residency and performance packages.