Animikii Theatre’s new production The Kaspar Hauser Experiment (Lowry, Salford, May 20-21; Interplay Theatre, Leeds, May 18-19), weaves a story of conspiracy and intrigue and sheds light on an incredible true story.
In 1828, a semi-feral youth appeared in the town square of Nuremberg, claiming to have been held prisoner in a darkened cell for 17 years. He was barely able to speak or walk, and could only write his name – Kaspar Hauser.
The mystery made him a celebrity across Europe and the riddle of his short life has fascinated and intrigued people since, inspiring books, films and music. But who was he really? Conman? Orphan? Or an abducted prince caught in the middle of a political game?
Animikii Theatre invites the audience to witness testimonies from those who know him best, hear the rumours that surround him and watch Kaspar try to uncover the facts.
Artistic director Adam Davies said:: “It’s clear from our research that Kaspar may have lived with learning difficulties, so we wanted to confront how we care for those most vulnerable. As a company we’re always searching for new and imaginative ways to articulate the struggle of the outsider, and to explore their place in society.”
Animikii is a Manchester-based "laboratory" company that accepts trial and error and making mistakes as necessary hurdles toward story-telling. Animikii has a producing partner for this show, Interplay Theatre, which specialises in sensory theatre for learning-disabled and able audiences. The ensemble cast includes learning-disabled actor Paul Bates, from Bradford-based Mind The Gap theatre company. Davies said: “Working with an artist with the experience Paul has is hugely exciting for our company. Including the voice and artistic observations of a learning-disabled artist has made this adaptation more exciting, sensitive and personal.”
Animikii has also been working with specialist access consultant, Vicky Ackroyd, to give the show embedded sensory elements and to build audio description into the text. Closed captioning is also available at each performance for those who need it.
Animikii Theatre also plans Play-Day workshops at The Lowry. Here, artists will be able to explore theatre-making practices used in the play. Book through The Lowry and Animikii Theatre’s websites.