Learning Disability theatre practice and collaborating with Little Cog
Little Cog is a disabled-led theatre company who value the practices and voices of all disabled theatre practitioners equally and Artistic Director, Vici Wreford-Sinnott, has made it a career long commitment to collaborate with and support learning disabled artists, audiences and participants. Often the most easily silenced voices in society, it is vital that we put learning disabled people and learning disability culture centre-stage. Especially when it is as fantastic as the work Full Circle makes.
About Full Circle Theatre Company
Full Circle is an award winning independent theatre company of learning disabled theatre makers making critically acclaimed work.
Full Circle started in 2008 as part of Stockton Council’s Adult Services department. They were described as a ‘community hub’ as services expanded to enable people more choices in how they spent their time. The group was supported by two day service staff with no drama experience at the time but lots of enthusiasm. In 2010, the group moved into Room 6 at ARC Stockton and the Arts Centre became their creative home. Funding was raised, through ARC, to work with a drama facilitator and the group performed their first show, Changes, in the studio space at ARC.
In 2012, Full Circle were approached by Vici Wreford-Sinnott, who offered the group some free drama sessions as part of a project she was running called Love and Hate in the Tees Valley, and they just clicked artistically. Since then the company has become independent of Day Services and together with Vici and ARC, have created five original professional shows, detailed below, supported with funding from Arts Council England and Spirit of 2012 Trust.
In addition to the creation of new work by learning disabled people, and bringing in new audiences, including large numbers of learning disabled people to see work with relevance to them, the company also deliver outreach workshops to learning disabled peers. This both ensures that what they are doing is current and engaging but also increases opportunities for learning disabled people to build their confidence, increase communication and social skills and to be part of something bigger than themselves which is life-enhancing and enriching, knowing that they have a place and are valued.
The company were delighted to be commissioned by Stockton International Riverside Festival to present a new piece of work, Stomping Ground. Arts Council England granted funding to Full Circle to develop the show. Sadly, coronavirus and the global pandemic had other ideas. Company members have become internet experts and still meet twice per week on zoom to devise the piece. We hope to see you in person at SIRF 2021. Fingers crossed.
Winning awards, touring, and training
In 2018, in their first year as an independent theatre company, Full Circle were delighted to be nominated for a Catalyst Community Arts and Culture Award. There was much celebration and trepidation as we went to the ceremony, everyone with fingers crossed and excited to be with 300 other amazing people from our region. A mighty cheer went up when Full Circle were announced as the winners.
It was a tremendous boost for the company and a wonderful recognition of their important voice, and of their contribution to Art and Culture in our area. Winning the award meant so much to the company members that they incorporated into the show they were making at the time. A big dream of the company once they were independent was to tour. And then it was like once they had wished for it, a number of things fell into place to help it to happen.
Full Circle were invited to perform at the Come On Down Festival in Blyth Northumberland by Headway Arts. It is an annual regional learning disability theatre and arts festival. The group met many other actors and artists and showcased a version of In The Middle Of Our Street. Not long afterwards they were invited to perform at the Catalyst Award Ceremony the year after they had won it and received a three hundred strong standing ovation.
The company also spent a year developing relationships with Arts Centre Washington and the Centre for Excellence in the Creative Arts (CECA) in Hartlepool where they delivered workshops and presented In The Middle Of Our Street to wonderful audiences.