News & Blog

Sweet Dreams: Guest Blog By Wendy Harris of tutti frutti

Jun 29, 2021

We spoke to Wendy Harris, Artistic Director at tutti frutti who we worked with on a new audio play set to inspire young imaginations and break the mould of children’s theatre.

As artistic director of tutti frutti productions one of my roles is to generate ideas for new work that enables us to bring fantastic artists together to create engaging theatre for young children. We tour this work all over the UK and internationally. Ideas can come from anywhere; books, world events or anything we feel concerns young children and families.

A good night’s sleep is something we all need, but so many children and families suffer through a lack of good quality sleep. So we began to interrogate this subject and came across the amazing Sleep Charity! Following a meeting with its inspiring CEO, Vicki Dawson, we set on course to explore how we could make a fantastic and imaginary play for children that was underpinned by sleep research.

A brilliant team of tutti theatre creatives were bought together and then we started meeting and talking to highly skilled sleep practitioners and medical sleep experts at the Sheffield Children’s hospital. Seeing these people at work and having the privilege to sit in on ‘sleep surgeries’ with families who were experiencing a full range of sleep challenges with their children, all fed into our creative process.

We wanted our play to be totally accessible to young children aged 3-7 years  and also to light up their imagination so after playing, exploring and researching, the idea emerged of young Ivy who finds herself on the moon with her toy rabbit, both unable to sleep. This 30 minute interstellar story is full of gorgeous music and songs, is charming and funny and has all the sleep research carefully embedded into it.

When 2020 was hit with the pandemic we soon realised touring this show to theatres and schools was not going to be possible, so we quickly adapted the play, intended for stage, into an audio play and 3 supporting podcasts with helpful information for children, teachers and families. Working with leading audio professionals Naked Productions, sleep experts and academics the audio play and podcasts were created.  The final part of the jigsaw was the creation of a digital game for children that would collect data about their sleep behaviour; the game collects the data which goes directly to the Sheffield Children’s Hospital to help their further research to aid more children and families with sleep problems. The game was designed by past RCA digital design  MA students.

So many people came together to create Sweet Dreams and it was a privilege to work with such diverse partners, artists, academics and professionals. Our gratitude goes to the Wellcome Trust, Garfield Weston and Arts Council England who funded the work. The content is available to listen to for free and we want to encourage as many children, families and teachers to listen to the play and the podcasts and help further research by playing our sleep time karting game!

We  do hope you all get a great night’s sleep!

Listen here: