Creative team announced for Helium’s early years theatre project
Helium is delighted to announce the creative team for our early years theatre project with the Jack and Jill Foundation. Theatre-maker and puppeteer Niamh Lawlor and musician Thomas Johnston will join director Joanna Williams in developing a new piece of work for toddlers with complex needs.
This project will involve the development of an immersive and multi-sensory theatre experience for toddlers with severe intellectual and physical developmental delay who are cared for in the home and will provide families with new ways of “attuning” to and bonding with their very young child. This project will be produced in collaboration with the nurses and families supported by the Jack and Jill Foundation and will eventually tour to families in their homes across Ireland.
Joanna is the Artistic Director of Little Bigtop, a theatre company based in Tipperary which makes work specifically for children. She established Little Bigtop in 2002 and has over 20 years experience in circus, visual theatre and street performance. Joanna creates and performs in all of Little Bigtop’s shows, teaches circus skills in the circus club and creates and leads the company’s participatory projects.
Musician (uilleann pipes and whistles), educator, and researcher, Thomas’s work lies between music education research and practice, Irish traditional music, community music and performing arts for children and young audiences. He recently completed a two-year Research Fellowship with Music Generation in partnership with St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra, the outcome of which is a forthcoming report entitled Possible Selves in Music.
Thomas’s work for young audiences includes The Quiet Tree and the Creatures of Whistleberry Forest, an intimate participatory performance for children aged 2-6, and he was recently commissioned by Scoil Cheoil na Botha Festival in Monaghan to develop a traditional arts suite for young children inspired by local folklore and artistic traditions. Thomas has worked with a number of organisations in the area of music for young children including Common Ground, Early Childhood Ireland, The Ark, Learning Hub Limerick, Beyond the Bark, Púca Puppets and Arad Goch Theatre (Wales).
Niamh is a founder of Púca Puppets and its Artistic Director since 1997. With a Bachelor of Design from NCAD and a Masters in Theatre Direction from the University of Hull, she has extensive experience as a maker, performer, director and designer for Púca and other theatre companies (including Team, The Ark, Wide Open Opera).
She also works as a collaborative and participative artist in many other contexts with work bridging the visual and theatre arts. She is a member of Dublin City Council and Dún Laoghaire/ Rathdown County Council’s Artist Panels and for many years also worked on the Artist Panel of the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
This new early years project is produced by Helium Arts in partnership with the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation. The project was approved by Government with support from the Dormant Accounts Fund. The project is further supported by The Arts Council, Kildare Arts Office, The Ireland Funds, The Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and the Civil Service Credit Union.