Meet the Artists: Caroline Bowditch, Snigel and Friends

Snigel and Friends

Snigel and Friends is a new work for children aged 0 – 12 months and their adults.

Ahead of the company's adventures across the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, we talked to Caroline Bowditch about her upcoming show which will be at Dance Base Festival 17 from 4 – 27 Aug.

1. What was it that inspired your show or performance?
For the last few years I have become aware of the demand for interesting work for young audiences. I also realised that very little, if any, work being made for young audiences includes visibly disabled performers. I have made this piece to start to address this issue.

I had had an idea about transforming myself into a massive snail and my motorised wheelchair being covered in a snail shell that could move through crowds at festivals and events. The idea of being a snail had emerged from the fact that in my chair I glide, I don’t have a footfall so it seemed like a natural connection. I proposed this idea to my Co-collaborator and designer, Laura Hook, and she was up for the challenge.

2. Can you describe your devising process, and how did you find inspiration for creating your work?
We went into the process with ideas of characters, based on the 3 other performers that I have worked previously. The show includes a snail called Snigel, a butterfly called Flutter, a bee called Hatchi and a cicada called Cecil. There are 3 characters in each show so the insect line up can vary and change.

We did a lot of playing with the type of toys that under 2’s play with. We watched lots of nature videos of the creatures in the show to really watch how they move and then applied this learning to our movement.

We shared the songs that we remembered from our childhood and then made our own songs.

One of the most important elements of our making process was the input from the members of our ‘baby board’ – a group of parents and babies from our target audience. The ‘Baby Board’ came into rehearsals weekly which provided us with the opportunity to share with them what we’d been working on and watch how their wee ones responded. It was the baby board who were instrumental in helping us determine the age group for the piece.

3. What was it that inspired you in becoming a performer, or setting up your company?
I think I’ve always been a bit of a show-off. But actually living with a very visible disability, as a wheelchair user, I’ve always been looked/stared at. I think often performing is a way for disabled people to be in control of what people see. Performance is also an incredible platform to get a message across to an audience and, potentially change perceptions and thinking.

4. What has been the biggest challenge in creating your show?
Entering a world of complete unknowns. I have never made work for children before so my learning curve was pretty vertical.

5. What was your favourite part of the rehearsal or devising process in creating your performance?
Our weekly ‘Baby Board’ meetings were the place we really got to try stuff out AND of course play..I mean get very valuable advice from some very cute people.

6. Do you have a routine or pre-show ritual that you have to do before you perform?
For several years I used to touch every seat in the front row saying, in my head ‘Enjoy the show’. For Frida we used to have a little pre-show boogie to the song ‘Tequila’ but we haven’t really developed anything for this show… yet.

6. What is your favourite dance performance you’ve seen, and why?
I was lucky enough to see Pina Bausch’s ‘Cafe Muller’ at Sadlers Wells before she died. I love it unapologetic absurdity and the poignant melancholy that runs through it. She makes it look so simple in it’s massive complexity.

7. If you could describe your show in 3 words, what would they be?
Fun, joyous, colourful

8. What are you most looking forward to in bringing your show to the festival?
I think performing in a show for such a young audience members that seem to often not be thought of and knowing that we have made something just for them.

9. If you’ve visited the festival before, what’s your favourite Edinburgh haunt?
Mary’s Milk Bar

You can find out more about Snigel and Friends, and book tickets here.
Tickets can also be booked via the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Box Office on 0131 226 0000.

Creative Scotland
Supported by Edinburgh
Supported by the City of Edinburgh Council
Living Wage