Performing for babies – a workshop

The Scalattine Teatro: SCATénàTi Unleashed

Anna Fascendini, creator and director of SCATéNàTI Unleashed, researcher of theatre for young children lead a 2-day workshop for actors in Madhouse

Recreating the social action of Children

In the workshop there was spaghetti, coarse salt, tree branches, feathers and chains (we’ll hear more of the chains in a minute). We played with the materials, creating narratives, both individually and in pairs. As there was multiple of one material it was best not do much mixing.The idea was to treat the materials like people, interact with them as if they could talk back.


The important part for me was to learn to  present interaction with accessible materials that are environmental, as well as practice non-verbal communication and spatial awareness exercises.

I went to see the performance later. It  was in two parts – watching the actors interact with the material, dance, communicate, then, through presenting the material to every child in the audience, kids are invited to play.



A part of the works is to make kids understand some spaces that they cannot enter and create boundaries.  For example, to have tape on the floor indicating where there is space for the performance and space for the audience. After the watching part is over, you need to take away the borders, showing that they can now enter the stage. Time and space before and after the show, is carefully planned. The performance has no clear ending to make it stand out, to get into it.The role and actions of the parents are very important factors, as they are the ones controlling the children.

The plays are designed for kids between age of a couple of months and 5 years.The youngest member of the audience on Friday was 6 days old.



Clay room workshop was organised in collaboration with my University and The Natural Building Company. (There is something special to me about the company, as Paul Lynch, the head of the organisation, comes from Limerick, and not only that, but also my good friend Beth used to live in the house where Paul grew up. To hear the Irish brogue and the sarky jokes after being away for a few months was a balm for the soul.)

It was actually another lovely guy, Charlie, who was leading the workshop in the studio. The idea was to build a space, using natural breathable materials within the concrete walls of a former nuclear research lab that our studios used to be.

Clay is a locally sources, 100% recyclable and waste-free material. It purifies the air by absorbing and releasing moisture according to the changing conditions of a space.

Sampo, our technician, built the wooden frame before hand, disassembled it, brought it into the space and put together again. Around 30 cm was left around the structure for access to the radiators and fire safety. Inbetween the wooden planks, there were reed blocks. At the start, the outside of it looked like this:clay room outside


Charlie showed us how to put together the ready-mix (clay and sand) and straw to make the paste to work with. Us four girls did some hard-core mixing.

 Then two layers of cob were put on inside and outside walls and on theClay mixing ceilingClay and strawclay roomCharlimixing

Nanohacking Workshop

Organised by Biofilia course for secondary school students, the 4 day workshop in Dec.2013 explored nano scale through accessible devices. 

Here’s some water droplets floating on a sheet of paper, sprayed with some kind of car cleaner or lock opener.

nano drops

Dr. Marc R. Dusseiller, a researcher and a nano enthusiast, talked to us about the variety of nano scale particles’ applications, from making cheese to organ replacement. His own approach is simple, and he strives not just for Do It Yourself, but for Do It With Others and believes that knowledge should be accessible.  He fits his nanohacking lab in a box, and travels around the world to teach kids about the beauty of science.

Here we made a nano microscope out of a phone camera and a lens borrowed from a laser pointer. Single pixels on a phone screen (which are nano size) are visible through it.

camera phone 1 camera phone 2


The concepts that seeded nanotechnology were first discussed in 1959 by renowned physicist Richard Feynman in his talk There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom, in which he described the possibility of synthesis via direct manipulation of atoms. The term “nano-technology” was first used by Norio Taniguchi in 1974, though it was not widely known.

Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. This covers both current work and concepts that are more advanced. In its original sense, nanotechnology refers to the projected ability to construct items from the bottom up, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, high performance products.

Here’s some nail varnish on a water surfaces. The layer is only a few nanometers thick.

single layer of nail varnish

One nanometer (nm) is one billionth, or 10−9, of a meter.To put that scale in another context, the comparative size of a nanometer to a meter is the same as that of a marble to the size of the earth. Or another way of putting it: a nanometer is the amount an average man’s beard grows in the time it takes him to raise the razor to his face. (Thank you wikipedia for this lovely information).

You can see it with an electronic microscope. Some everyday things, however, are made up of only a few layers of nano particles and can produce interesting images if looked at under a light microscope.With some of the experiments, I wasn’t sure how exactly it is related to nano technology, but it was fun to play with anyway.

We made circuit boards by exposing bit of wired plastic prepared before hand to light, soaking them in some kind of solution, and wiring them to a speaker and a light bulb. If you rub the board with the your fingers, the speaker makes sounds.

board 1 board ready IMGP3002

We constructed a mini projector/microscope to look at contents of a water drop, containing some small organisms.

laser box 1

Hanging a plastic chrystal in front of it added some drama.

laser box 2PS: I really really want this book Molecular Aesthetics  which sounds like a great contemporary researcher merging art and science.It really seems like something where art is heading.


PPS : Check out this guy who desings working, helping, medical devices

Foraging and Urban Gardening


So here I am in Aalto university in Helsinki. Our first workshop lead by Joel Rosenberg was called Foraging and Urban gardening. We cycled a lot. About 30 km a day.  I mean for me it really was a lot, but the Finns didn’t seem to mind.


On the first two days we went around Helsinki and collected fruit and berries from public gardens. There is an “everyman’s right” in Finland, so everybody is allowed to forage for food in public as well as private spaces (as long as they are reasonable away from the private residential property).



We also went to the Pasila railway garden organised by a local environmental and urban gardening organisation Dodo. There is a glass house placed on the former railway turntable, several outdoors allotments, and a restaurant serving food just grown. The fantastic place is located right in the city centre of Helsinki, on a wasteland on the side of the railway and it is just  magical to see the garden transforming the space so much.



On Wednesday we went to Nuuksio National park about half an hour from Helsinki. We learned about mushrooms and made a Shamrock and mushroom soup.




On Friday we each had to present our own projects (more about the projects here)

My work was centred around an apple tree, tucked away by the former gate of Helsinki prison. Immediately I was compelled by the parallel of the apples rotting on the ground and the people wasting their time away in the prison. In attempt to highlight this process, I brought a pack of bleached A4 office paper, normally used for documents, the likes of birth certs and life-sentences.

I carefully placed the gone off apples on the blank pages, one on each own sheet. I didn’t pick every single one, just a few, as I was getting a bit nervous because of a gentleman sitting down on the bench nearby and staring at me. He wouldn’t leave until I had picked all the sheets up.Through this semi-experimental and experiential work I was curious to see what imprint an apple would leave on the white sheet.


The next day I brought the group of fellow students with me to the site, wishing for them to experience the work in a participatory way. With me I had a second hand book, Охрана окружающей среды, environmental protection in English (Google translate says it’s ympäristönsuojelu in Finnish, I love the way it’s one word rather than two or three). I invited everyone to tear the pages out of the book and, again, place them under the fallen apples, see how many wasted apples we can find.

5image by Joel Rosenberg 7

Team work was much more fruitful than my own attempt, and we used up the whole book of 559 pages.

It was a good week!


Upcycled I

This table came from a trash bin. Unfortunately I don’t have a before picture, but it did look pretty bad – stained and damp. I painted it with a bit of furniture paint and polished with Walnut oil (another good one to use is linseed – they are much more environmental than synthetic oil and do not rot like  other vegetable oils).



I found some boxes in the bin, alongside easel table legs. I put some baking paper to prevent the glue from leaking into the soil, put some compost it and – Tah- Dah! – planted veg and herbs.



I found a stool in a bin next to Mary Immaculate college in Limerick. I painted the legs and made a soft seat with a removable cover. It is a bar/draft table height.