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We were thrilled to spend time working with our charity partner Body&Soul over the past year on an engagement project.

Designed for 3 – 8 year olds, over the course of five weeks, 12 families explored their experiences of getting dressed in their earliest years through sensory work, music, crafting and play. The project was packed with plenty of fun-filled moments including a glorious sock hunt, travelling to imaginary worlds in search of a lost jacket, creating an exhibition of their favourite clothes and dancing through lots of glamorous fashion shows.

The project was designed to be part of a co-creative practice for our early years summer show Get Dressed! Written and directed by Jade Lewis who joined the group throughout the process, it enabled the creative team to apply ideas in the rehearsal space.

Exploring concepts such as being inside a washing machine using playground parachutes and bubbles, the children were filled with joyful energy as their parents perhaps wished they brought this much enthusiasm to cleaning at home.

Joined by the cast to see snippets of the show as it was being developed, the children reacted in joyous ways, vocally and physically expressing themselves to the actors as they performed. Jade was able to take these reactions as inspiration for the development of the two characters, Girl and Dad.

The raw and honest reactions from the children truly brought the project to life. One girl caught her reflection in the ceiling window, laid down and observed carefully, finding different ways to move around and play with her clothes. She was engrossed in this personal activity for the whole session. The children were excited to play with the clothes even before the session started, walking around with the hats on their heads, rolling around with the scarves – everything in the space was fascinating to them. Such elements of play can be seen in the final version of Get Dressed!

After the end of the project, the Body&Soul members were invited to come and watch the show. Thoroughly engaged and participated throughout, they cheered loudly when Girl finally defeated the washing machine in the final scenes. The children and their adults were able to see the influence they had on the creation of a show and little moments recreated within the scenes. They reunited with the cast and company after the performance to talk through the process, and finally finish by designing their favourite outfit to hang on the Unicorn’s washing line.

The Unicorn’s Community Partnership Programme is supported by D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, The 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust, Edelman, and all our Big Give Christmas Challenge 2021 supporters.

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