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creating possibilities for disabled children

Wish of Starfish Project at Shanghai Children’s Art Theatre

“Bamboozle has not only deeply moved the audience by their performances, but also brought a brand new educational philosophy, which will fundamentally influence Chinese society.”

Christine Liang, General Manager – Shanghai Children’s Art Theatre.

Starting Point

June 2016

Christine Liang and Vicky Yuwei see Down to Earth at Imaginate’s Edinburgh International Children’s Festival and invite Bamboozle to perform in Shanghai.


To perform shows in Shanghai each spring to bring live theatre to the disabled community in China. To audition and recruit a company of Chinese actors, train them in the Bamboozle Approach so that they are able to perform localised Chinese versions of Down to Earth and Storm in Shanghai. To provide training for teachers and parents in the Bamboozle Approach. To deliver seminars.

The process

April 2017

  • Bamboozle tour Down to Earth and Storm to the Shanghai Children’s Art Theatre.
  • Deliver training sessions for parents, teachers and practitioners.
  • Give a seminar forum to live audience which is also live streamed.

November 2017

  • 16 Chinese actors [auditionees] attend the two-day Introduction to the Bamboozle Approach course at the Shanghai Children’s Art Theatre.
  • Auditionees prepare a workshop to be delivered alongside Bamboozle team in a Shanghai Special School. This to determine how well the auditionees engage with learning disabled children.
  • Auditions. Company of 8 actors engaged who have both the skills to perform and ability to connect with learning disabled children.

March 2018

  • Two musicians recruited

April 2018

  • Bamboozle performs Down to Earth, Storm and Gentle Giant at SHCAT
  • Training courses for teachers, practitioners and parents. Family sessions.
  • Chinese actors learn songs from Down to Earth and Storm
  • Each actor performs in the English version of the shows alongside the Bamboozle actors to gain experience of performing using the Approach.
  • Chinese team rehearse the Chinese version of Down to Earth

August and September 2018

  • Further rehearsals of Down to Earth followed by
  • Performances of the Chinese version in Shanghai Schools

November 2018

  • We perform Storm as part of the Shanghai Children’s Theatre Festival. The performance is live streamed to delegates and Bamboozle contributes to a forum discussion after the showing.

January 2019

April 2019

  • Bamboozle perform Storm, Moon Song and Gentle Giant at SHCAT. 67 performances;
  • Training for practitioners, teachers and parents.
  • Family workshops.
  • Seminar to live audience also live streamed.
  • Chinese actors perform alongside Bamboozle team during the Bamboozle performances of Storm.
  • Rehearsals of Storm

July 2019

  • Further rehearsals of Storm

September 2019

  • Performances of Chinese version in Shanghai Schools

Summer 2020

  • While the UK is in lockdown Chinese versions of Down to Earth and Storm are performed at the Shanghai Children’s Art Theatre.

A parent’s letter to Bamboozle

It is said: “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach him to fish, he will never go hungry.” As a Chinese father I cite this wise classical saying to pay my sincere salute to all the crew of Down to Earth which is outstanding immersive theatre.

The actors of Bamboozle are so professional because they really know how to interact and communicate with exceptional children. As a father of an ASD son, I really know how hard it is for him to get involved in the world around. But in this show my son felt safe, free, relaxed and obviously happy. The experience was so precious to me and my son.

More importantly what enlightens me a lot is the role of parents in the drama. Before the performance I was asked not to disturb my son – just sit beside him and observe him do what he wants to do. To some extent the actors are not just performers, they are more like instructors or facilitators. They let the children proactively embrace the new environment and showed the parents how to gently and naturally observe and their child express himself in the world.

This drama teaches me an important class. Children prefer immersive experience and gentle guidance.
I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the crew.”


Jia, Tao, a Chinese father of an son who is on the Autism Spectrum.

Why is the project called “Wish of Starfish”?

A man was walking along a beach. There had been a recent storm and across the beach along its entire length thousands and thousands of starfish had been stranded as the tide receded. They were now drying out in the heat of the baking sun. In the distance one small figure. As the man approached he could see that it was an old woman and she was picking up starfish and throwing them into the sea. The man was curious. ‘What are you doing?’ Without stopping the woman said: ‘I’m saving the star fish’. The man said: ‘But there are thousands and thousands of them – you’re not going to make any difference.” Without looking at him she picked up another starfish and sent it tumbling into the waves. “Made a difference to that one.”

Photos reproduced courtesy of  Shanghai Children’s Art Theatre (SHCAT).

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