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Oily Cart Presents KUBLA KHAN

Oily Cart Presents KUBLA KHAN

The sights, sounds and smells of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epic poem - Kubla Khan - are to be re-imagined into a brand new and unique immersive production in August 2017 by one of Britain's most innovative and ground-breaking young people's theatre companies - Oily Cart. Together with the national charity Sense, Oily Cart will enter unchartered territories to transform this rhythmically rich and vibrant work into their first ever touring production for children and young people who are deafblind.

Renowned for devising "all sorts of shows for all sorts of kids", this brand-new co-production will be no exception. In addition to creating their very first show for a young deafblind audience, playing with temperatures, taste and touch to tease out the poem's lyrical and scent-infused language - from "the caves of ice" to "the milk of paradise" - Oily Cart will also create two other distinct versions of this same show for youngsters on the Autistic Spectrum and for those with profound and multiple-learning disabilities. Kubla Khan will tour to special schools around the UK and mainstream venues, including London's artsdepot and The Gulbenkian in Canterbury.

In keeping with the company's trademark immersive and hands-on style, the audience for Kubla Khan will be centre stage at all times, right at the heart of each bespoke and tactile 55-minute show. Featuring three actors and one musician - sitar performer Sheema Mukherjee - the show will play to an audience of just six alongside their adult carers. The production, particularly because it has a version for the deafblind, will place great emphasis on the sense of touch and smell. All performances will take place inside a dome, the pleasure-dome, where the audience will each sit beside a water feature, in which they will be able to dangle their fingers. The water's temperature will be altered gradually - so the audience will be able to feel it change from cool to warm to icy, and from still to bubbly to gently perfumed. This tactile sensation will help to create the experience of a boat ride through the poem.

Written in 1797, and first published in 1816, Kubla Khan is hailed as one of Coleridge's three great poems, along with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel. It is widely believed he wrote most of the poem immediately following a particularly vivid and lurid dream about Xanadu, the summer palace of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China, Kublai Khan. The rich and colourful metaphors of Coleridge's writing and their almost cinematic qualities, lend themselves perfect for the complex and immersive needs of these audiences, as writer and director Tim Webb explains:

"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."

Kubla Khan goes into rehearsals in February 2017, and will embark on a UK wide tour from August to October 2017:

Press Preview - Alba Centre, Linden Lodge: 24th August 2017

Boing Festival, jarman 1, Canterbury: 26th & 27th August 2017

The Albany: 26th & 27th September 2017

Artsdepot, North Finchley: 11th & 12th October 2017

Photo credit: Neal Houghton

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