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The Starcatchers Project, the first of its kind in Scotland, explores the development and creation of theatre work for babies and young children (0-3 years old) and their parents or carers.

Family workshop programme includes dance for babies; Photo: Paul Watt

Starcatchers was launched in October 2006 and engaged Creative Artists, Andy Manley and Vanessa Rigg to undertake the first phase of the project.

Audience interaction after Little Light performance; Photo: Paul Watt

The Creative Artists developed themes and ideas which were tested in workshops with children in local childcare settings. These workshops helped the Artists to translate their ideas into theatre work suitable for the developmental phase of their audience. The positive response of these children surprised the childcare staff and even the artists themselves.

Starcatchers' first production was Little Light which Andy and Vanessa created with designer Brian Hartley and composer Stephen Deazley. 

'a beautifully crafted show tailor made for tiny ears, eyes and noses. Creators Andy Manley and Vanessa Rigg conducted extensive research in nursery schools before creating the show - and it's paid off...Using songs movement, shadow puppetry, fragrance and musical instruments, Rigg and fellow performer Matt Addicott keep babies and toddlers entranced with 30 minutes of wonderment.'
Kelly Apter, The List, September 2007

There are plans to tour Little Light in 2008.

Starcatchers Creative Artist Andy Manley also created a one-man show called My House with designer Claire Halleran and composer Danny Krass. This production explores textures and sounds and is aimed at children between 18 months and three years of age.

My House Creator and Performer, Andy Manley; Photo: Paul Watt

'For a little under 30 minutes, performer Andy Manley builds a world with such a slow and gentle development that Beckett would have been proud. He takes the barely furnished room upstairs at NEAC and simply but deliberately, builds another world there - but one which really only exists in the imaginations of its audience, mums and toddlers alike.'
Thom Dibdin, The Edinburgh Evening News, 22 June 2007

My House has been invited to perform at the Visioni di Futuro, Visioni di Teatro Festival in Bologna in March 2008 and the Bank of Scotland Children's International Theatre Festival in May 2008.

Creative Artist, Heather Fulton, joined the Starcatchers Project in October 2007. Heather has considerable experience of working with young audiences. She is currently developing themes which will form the basis of a new piece of work for Spring 2008.

Interest in the project is growing across Scotland, the UK and Europe. 

Little Light; Photo: Paul Watt

In 2007, Starcatchers coordinated an International Symposium to discuss the future development of theatre work for babies and young children. This event attracted over 50 delegates including artists, theatre managers and educational specialists, from across the UK and Europe.

Dr Susan Young of The University of Exeter is coordinating an action research study into the Starcatchers Project which will be published in the autumn of next year. Key partners in the project are currently discussing options which will enable Starcatchers to develop in 2008 once the current funding is completed.

Starcatchers is funded by NESTA and the Scottish Arts Council, and is currently based at North Edinburgh Arts Centre.  For more information, please email Rhona Matheson.

See also
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