Slaithwaite arts Shabang group film for kids with learning needs

The film is the brainchild of Shabang, a Slaithwaite-based theatre company for people with a physical, sensory, communication, behavioural or a learning disability

Ella Smith and mum Ruth at the launch of the Pirates DVD
Ella Smith and mum Ruth at the launch of the Pirates DVD

Pirates and treasure hunters are the stars of a new film aimed at children with additional learning needs.

Reg & Bet – All At Sea abounds in catchy tunes and features actors with Down syndrome, autism and learning disabilities.

The film is the brainchild of Shabang, a Slaithwaite-based theatre company for people with a physical, sensory, communication, behavioural or a learning disability.

Shabang co-founder Kim Reuter said young people and children with additional needs were underrepresented in film and the new movie aimed to close that gap in the market.

“We are hoping to get it out there to primary schools and families and hope that a TV company could realise the potential,” she said.

The film is now available on DVD, which was launched earlier this month.

The cast and all families involved in the project were invited to the premiere and were asked to “dress down” in the style of the two main characters – rag-and-bone merchants.

Instead of having an audition, Shabang decided to work with the 40 children attending the group's regular arts sessions.

The film was shot over a period of only four days and features 13 original songs written by Shabang co-founder Russ Elias.

The pace, repetition and use of Makaton signing in the film help to make it both educational and entertaining.

Kim said Reg & Bet was Shabang's first film, but the group had previously released songs on YouTube, which proved highly popular.

She added: “We hope to make more projects using digital media. We have so many ideas, songs and characters up our sleeve.

“We aim to reach a wider audience, celebrate the diversity of our fantastic children and illustrate how we are all equally different – and that's cool!”

The DVD is available to buy for �12.99 plus �3 postage and packaging from www.shabang.org.uk or by phoning 01484 848073.

A CD with all songs from the film is also available at a cost of �5 plus �1 postage and packaging.

Shabang has been active for more than 25 years and collaborates with schools, educators, families and carers. The money for the group’s activities is provided by the Big Lottery Fund.

 
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