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creating possibilities for disabled children

The River: a source of multi-sensory possibility

Image shows model of the mountain gateway at the beginning of Bamboozle new show The River designed by Nettie Scriven

Set design for The River in miniature by Nettie Scriven.

The development of our Spring term touring production The River is well underway.

Artistic Director Christopher Davies leads our team in devising a new multi-sensory experience inspired by rivers. Christopher has long been inspired by these bodies of water – so integral to life – and a source of many multi-sensory possibilities.

The show is being designed by Nettie Scriven, with music and sound by Craig Byrne and puppets created by Sue Pyecroft. Actor musicians Rosie Fox and Neyire Ashworth also joined us for our Research and Development process.

About the show:

Our audience will be taken on a journey from the river’s source in the mountains as it flows downstream. They will encounter the river’s lively residents from an energetic salmon swimming against the current, a stately heron in her nest, a playful otter, dragonflies emerging from under the surface, and perhaps even spot an elusive Kingfisher!

We’ll meet a water goddess who brings mystical otherworldly music to the ferryman at work in his boat.  A storyteller weaves together these moments along the rivers’ journey towards the ocean.

We feature an array of textures, from rippling silks to grassy bull rushes. Reflected light and water play at the start of the show conjure up the rivers’ source.

There’s a variety of live music; instruments with tactile vibrations, alongside pre-recorded sound which create layers of atmosphere.  Songs and sounds in the show range from evoking a jaunty playfulness on the surface to the strange eeriness of the under-water world.

The River is designed for disabled audiences with complex needs; catering for groups of just 6 children in each 40 minute show, performances offer high levels of focused attention and 1:1 interaction with our team of artists, who tailor each moment for our audience’s individual needs.


Artistic stimulus for the piece includes:

  • The anthology of poetry River by Ted Hughes with photos by Peter Keen, published in 1983.
  •  Anthony Gormley’s sculpture 6 times; a “series of standing figures” who “watch over the river [Leith] as it winds its way through Dean Village and down to the sea”, (www.waterofleith.org.uk).
  • Siddhartha: An Indian Novel, Hermann Hesse’s 1922 novel which depicts a spiritual journey of self-discovery in which the titular character ultimately becomes a ferryman, connecting with cycle of nature and finding wisdom through listening to the many voices of the river.

The show’s designer Nettie Scriven, has also found inspiration in the colour palettes of Anish Kapoor to Matisse, and her costume designs have hints of the Pastoral genre.  The set design in particular responds to a line from Hughes’ poem The Kingfisher, as the bird darts ‘beyond the water/ Shivering the spine of the river’ (25-26).

About the design:

Nettie’s use of heightened colour in the set and costume adds vibrancy to nature’s more muted tones.

The colour palette of the characters’ costumes – rich blues, salmon reds, and earthy yellows and greens – represent the energies of the elements they are closest to. The costumes also have a timeless feel which nod to our enduring spiritual and physical relationship with rivers.

Image shows costume concepts for Bamboozle's show The River designed by Nettie Scriven. Costumes vary from bright blue, salmon red, bright yellows and green.
Costume concept designs for The River by Nettie Scriven

Here we’ve featured some images of Nettie’s design concepts for the performance space and costumes. There are two distinct areas; the first where our audience will gather together with our characters before travelling through the mountain gateway to follow the river. (The squares represent the spaces for our six audience members, placing them in the heart of the performance).

The image depicts designer Nettie Scriven's concept designed for Bamboozle's show The River. This includes a model of the set featuring a bright blue floor cloth with acts as a river and drawing of flowing costumes of bright blues and reds.
Costume and set concepts for The River by Nettie Scriven.

Rehearsal are the show start in two weeks’ time, where we’ll be welcoming our team of artists, Amy Whittle, Ben Moores, Ravneet Sehra and Naomi Sparrow to bring the show to life before embarking on our 6 week tour to special schools across the country.

Watch this space for more images from the show as it comes together!

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