Andy Manley, Vanessa Rigg, Heather Fulton

Andy Manley is a theatre artist based in the UK.  He creates performances largely through devising, though has worked on several written projects. He directs or performs depending on what feels right for the project. He started to make his own work in 2006. Before that he was an actor.  Andy works with a number of artists and collaborators to create his shows. Over the last few years he has specialised in creating performances for children and latterly work for the very young.

Vanessa Rigg is a theatre practitioner, performer, director and arts development officer. She is currently working as part of the Creative Learning team with Renfrewshire Leisure, specialising in cultural experiences for early years. She has performed and toured extensively in the UK and Europe with Footsbarn Theatre and Teatro ao Largo. She also has an early years theatre, music and dance performance on tour called Swoosh.

Heather Fulton is a theatre director, drama facilitator and Co-Artistic Director of award-winning children’s theatre company Frozen Charlotte. Heather began her professional career as Trainee Director with Imaginate and Catherine Wheels Theatre Company. Since then she has worked with Visible Fictions Theatre Company, The Lyceum, macrobert arts, Aberdeen Performing Arts, Dundee Rep and The National Theatre of Scotland.

The Project

The Starcatchers pilot project was established in 2006 as a mean of exploring theatre for the very young in Scotland and also as a creative intervention between North Edinburgh Arts Centre and childcare settings in the community.

The project was funded by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), the City of Edinburgh Council and Scottish Arts Council and delivers 2 phases of artist residency.

The first phase was delivered by Andy Manley and Vanessa Rigg who together made Little Light, a production which captured the imaginations of hundreds of babies in the area and also toured to theatres across Scotland in a subsequent tour. During his residency, Andy Manley also created My House, another production which showed audiences in Scotland that it was possible to create innovative theatre experiences for very young children. My House went on to tour to festivals and theatres across the UK, to Europe and also to the New Victory Theatre in New York.

The second residency phase was led by artist Heather Fulton who had previously created a production for 2-5 year olds called Moussa’s Castle. Together with a creative team which included Katy Wilson, Greg Sinclair, Ros Sydney and Ximena Vengoechea, Heather created a performance installation called Peep which explored the boundaries between play and performance.

In addition to the residencies, the pilot project also presented the first Starcatchers International Symposium in February 2007 which explored questions around why and how you create performances for the very young. With performances from Starcatchers Artists and Oily Cart and presentations from Colwyn Trevarthen and Wolfgang Schneider, this event was instrumental in the development of this art-form in Scotland.

Supporting all of this work, was an action research study delivered by Dr Susan Young from the University of Exeter and Dr Niki Powers from the University of Edinburgh. This report explored how the young children who came to performances or workshops engaged with the experiences they were having and this laid the foundation for greater understanding of how very young children engage with creative activity in Scotland.

Read the See Theatre: Play Theatre research report on our Evaluation page