A Birmingham service for children and adults with complex needs received a sneak peak of the new production from leading theatre company Oily Cart. The show, titled ‘Kubla Khan’, has been developed in partnership with the national disability charity Sense, and is aimed at young people with complex disabilities. It is Oily Cart’s first ever production with a version for children and young people who are deafblind; there are also versions tailored to young people on the autism spectrum, and for young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities.

Over 20 people, across two performances, experienced the new show which is inspired by the acclaimed Coleridge poem.  The audience of children and adults were invited into a multi-sensory pleasure dome that they could touch, taste and smell. From the sounds of a sitar to the feel of a flowing river, they experienced the temperatures, textures and aromas of their journey to meet the Emperor.

Stephanie Tyrell, National Arts Manager for Sense, said: “Oily Cart challenge accepted definitions of theatre and audience, to create innovative, multi-sensory and highly interactive productions for young people with complex needs. It was a pleasure to work them and contribute towards a final production, which has special consideration to a deafblind audience.

Kubla Khan is a vivid, multisensory, interactive performance, incorporating touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. The audience today loved it and it will appeal to youngsters with a wide range of abilities.”

Tim Webb MBE, Artistic Director of Oily Cart, said: “One of the key reasons why I chose to work with this text, apart from the fact that it is filled with verbal descriptions crying out for multisensory interpretation, is that it is written in a rich and intricate style, featuring rapidly shifting points of view and characters and situations that defy ready definition. It offers a multitude of facets that can be appreciated both by the brain and the senses and is therefore perfect for deafblind audiences.”

Earlier in the year, Sense and Oily Cart developed a set of workshops with  the production company and some of the people Sense supports, with the learnings and experience contributing to the final production.

Kubla Khan will tour from August.