I have been paid to write my honest opinions in this review and I am really excited to share this event with you! I have, this week, had the pleasure of experiencing Tribe DIY for myself.
Tribe is more than a Theatre show, it is an inclusive, sensory experience, specially designed and produced for autistic and neurodivergent children. The show is set deep in the rainforest where audiences meet a team of explorers who share stories of animals and adventure all from their curious camp.
Audiences are immersed in the sounds and scenes and sense of the rainforest using specially designed music and non verbal interaction alongside sensory resources.
Tribe, by leading inclusive children’s theatre company, Replay, is part of the Spark Festival which, this year is all online due to Covid-19, making it even more accessible for those who struggle to attend big events with their children. Perhaps one of the most inclusive things about it is the fact that tickets are on a pay what you can basis so anyone can join in.
When I was first told about the experience, I thought maybe it was just a video you watch at home but I was so wrong, it has been adapted brilliantly for home use and Tribe DIY really is an immersive experience that you and your child can be a part of together as you experience the sounds, scenes and scents of the rainforest.
I was initially sent two links – The first link was to a welcome video and series of films explaining what Tribe is and how to do Tribe DIY at home. It is extremely important to watch these videos and to plan and prepare ahead a little before you experience the show. The videos give instructions and pointers on how to prepare and how to make the most of the twenty minute experience. They most importantly acknowledge that every child is different and you as a parent know your child so to adapt the experience and props for your child’s enjoyment. Try to watch these instructional videos when your child isn’t listening or throw in a pair of headphones so they can’t hear.
You will need to prepare a few things to help with the sensory engagement and enhance the experience. They show you how to make simplified versions of the props they use in the theatre show, using everyday items and give some great ideas for alternatives that you can make with things you should have around the house. Although there is a bit to prepare before you can take part in the experience, nothing is difficult and it is well worth the effort.
When I was prepared with my comfy jungle tent made out of my dining room table and a sheet, I gathered my homemade props and bowl of mashed bananas and followed the link to the second video – the Tribe diy experience. The whole experience is a manageable twenty minutes long and is split into 5 sensory activity sections, each with its own music and animal. The 5 sections are making your camp, snake, monkeys, birds and fireflies.
The video starts with a brief introduction which tells you to turn off the lights, shut the curtains and get comfy then there is a countdown to the start of the show before you find yourself in the jungle camp with a tribe member. The video is set to music and is designed to be non verbal. The first section is very much about exploring your surroundings in your own jungle camp. There is a countdown timer in the bottom right of the screen which shows you how long there is left of each section of the show and the music changes as you move from section to section.
The second part of the show is the snake so I got my pre-prepared rice in a bottle snake and followed the lead of the lady on the video, doing as she did with the sound. Following this, I found my material snakes – a blanket and towel of different textures and again followed the lead of the video, twisting and snaking them around to the music.
The next part of the show is the monkeys and this is where the mashed bananas came in for the sensory smell and taste experience. My homemade monkey tail, made from a stick and left over Christmas tinsel came next. Though, perhaps not as soft as the one on the video, it provided its own sensory experience. This was followed by my homemade (apples) juggling balls which, thankfully didn’t smash on the floor as I tried to juggle them.
The music changed again and I was on to the next part of the show – the birds. My tower fan and homemade coloured paper fan came in useful here, as I followed the lead of the video. The idea of this part of the show is that your child is flying with beautiful rainforest birds and soaring above the canopy of the rainforest, feeling the wind on their face.
After the birds, it was coming towards the end of the show and time for all the animals to settle down for the night. I moved on to the final section – fireflies. For the fireflies, in the instructional video it does mention buying some finger lights online, which would probably work best. However it also gives you information on how to adapt a torch using a sweet wrapper, so provided you have a torch at home, you wont need to spend any money if you don’t want to. I followed the lead of the video and also the instructions on the preparation video to give my firefly its own personality as it zipped and danced around the room.
After the fireflies, the tribe member waves goodbye and it is the end of the video. The great thing about it though, is you get access to the video for the duration of the show availability, so you could leave your sensory camp out and can do the whole experience again or repeat your child’s favourite parts whenever you like.
I was so impressed with this online experience. Obviously the theatre company has a lot of experience in providing shows for autistic children and a lot of thought has gone into how the show can be adapted for home use. It is done extremely well -any sensory seeker would love it! Parents/carers are very important for the experience to work, it isn’t something you can just sit your child in front of to watch as they won’t get the full experience that way. You do need to spend the time to prepare and be prepared to join in and create a good experience for your child.
At a time where we are all stuck at home with limited resources to help us, this show provides a welcome lifeline of a positive experience that parents can share with their children.
The Tribe video adventure will be available from 11am on Saturday 13 Feb until 6pm on Saturday 20 Feb and can be booked here. Tickets are on a Pay What You Can basis so everyone can join in. Families who book will receive a free PDF Tribe (DIY) poster to print out and display at home in the lead up to the event. Once booked you will receive a welcome video which explains how to prepare for your journey and a pre-recorded ‘play as you go’ story so you can enjoy the adventure in your home, at your own pace. You can enjoy Tribe DIY whenever you like and as many times as you want during the week. The recommended age for the show is young autistic and neurodivergent children aged 8+ however other age groups may also benefit.
Some of the images used in this post were provided by and used with permission of the event organiser.
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