Dormez-vous? with Great Oaks School

Last week Great Oaks School participated in Dormez-vous? at The Point, Eastleigh, exploring the themes of bedtime, sleep and night with Company L’Insomnante and Workshop Facilitator, Jo Skapinker. Find out more about their experiences through these day by day diary entries.

Monday 11 April 2016

Students from Great Oaks School returned after the holidays to find a real adventure in store. After travelling to The Point, Eastleigh this morning, they discovered a room filled with white pillows, and a lady fast asleep in a bed! They walked along a winding path made from pillows, crisscrossing the room to take a closer look, and they certainly weren’t dreaming. ‘Shhh’, they said, as they looked to see what would happen.

Tweet tweet tweet!

As it was the morning, it seemed sensible to try to wake the sleeping lady and today we invented lots of sounds which you might hear at night or in the day; from a bird tweeting, to a cat meowing, and an alarm clock ringing. Our group did a brilliant job of waking the sleeper with their sounds and, once everyone was awake, we could all introduce ourselves before diving into games and activities.


Our first pillow game of the day was ‘Falling Pillows’ which was accompanied by the music of our cellist Catherine. Everyone walked with a pillow in hand and, when the music changed, they threw their pillows in the air and went to sleep on them. This was followed by an orchestra of day and night sounds and the Grandmother’s Footsteps (our pillow version). Members of the group took it in turns to be the leader and when the leader turned round and said ‘are you there?’, we all hid behind pillows….boo! The group did a great job volunteering to lead. Everyone chose to take a lead role in their favourite activities throughout the day, and it was great to see so much confidence and enthusiasm.

Draw your eyes, your nose, your ears

Our group drew some fantastic self portraits in pairs this afternoon. In each pair, one person described what to draw and the other drew the picture, but holding the paper in front of their face and trying to work out where the eyes, nose and ears go. We were impressed by how the group listened to each other to create the pictures, and we all liked looking at the self portrait results.


After a busy morning there was time for relaxation and everyone lay on the pillows and listened to the music. But of course there was also a moment when, on the word ‘go!’ we could all jump into the giant heap of pillows. The teachers had a turn too.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Would you sleep in a bed….

….in outer space, surrounded by spiky alien monsters?

….in the centre of the scuffed green turf of a football pitch?

….at the bottom of the sea with fish tickling your toes?

….in the centre of a huge colourful tornado with blue and pink swirling around you?

….in the middle of a circle of big grey rocks?

The group made drawings inspired by L’Insomnante’s images of someone sleeping in a bed in all kinds of landscapes.

Would you put your head on a pillow….

….which has fallen from the sky?

….which moves with you wherever you go?

….held by a guardian angel who makes sure it’s in exactly the right place whenever you lie down?

Our group tried all of these in our games today. They became ‘guardian angels’, they followed their friends holding pillows, and placed one under their head wherever they chose to lie down. Looking after our friends can be hard work; we need to listen to what they want and watch where they want to go to. Our group worked on looking out for others (and what better way than by giving them a comfortable pillow).

We also tried ‘two-headed pillows’, trying to balance a pillow between two people as they walk without touching it; a different kind of listening, where we work with a friend to discover where to move but without speaking, and then try to go there together.

Would you fall asleep….

….to the melody of a lullaby?

….to the music of a cello?

….to the sound of an orchestra of pillows?

Wednesday 13 April 2016

‘It was fun.’ ‘I like this Pillow Pile.’

We’d like to start today’s blog with these words from Great Oaks School. Today our group jumped, rolled, sang, hid, crawled, danced and laughed amongst our pillows, and the day passed in a blur of games and fun.

When everyone arrived this morning they discovered a tunnel made out of a bed and a duvet to crawl through. We made our way along the pillow path with real confidence and enjoyment, before watching a mysterious moment from Dormez-vous? show, which we’re sure we’ll be seeing again. We looked at photos of ourselves from yesterday remembering the previous day’s adventures, and recognised ourselves in the pictures.

We made a huge road of pillows and rolled all the way to the end, with lots of laugher along the way. We sang the beautiful lullaby and our voices wove through the air.

We invented our own choreography for bedtime and each person’s dance was a series of images; drinking milk, brushing our teeth, looking at the stars and the moon, a kiss goodnight. Everyone made their own choreography and showed it to the group.

We built our own pile of pillows and dived into the middle for a moment of rest and relaxation.

‘I know that!’ we said, as our favourite games and activities appeared for our final day, and everyone joined in with such enthusiasm and showed great initiative.

Friday 15 April 2016

Comfortable, calm and at ease.

That’s what we feel in the spaces and places we know best; our favourite corners of the room, a favourite verse of a song, our favourite pillow on the bed. There’s a sense of understanding of where we are, reassuring and ever present; the wordless joy of familiarity.

Opening the door to a winding path of white pillows, our group made their way towards the sleeping lady. This time, they knew exactly what to do. Shoes were left at the door with no prompts of questions asked, pillows place in just the right way for each person to be comfortable, fingers held to lips as a reminder that this is a quiet space, a calm space. Our group guided those who had never been there before; parents, younger siblings, visitors, we showed them, without the need to speak, how to find their places.

This time, it was night. We saw a woman unable to fall asleep, disturbed by a chorus of evening sounds, tossing and turning in a bed which was itself never at rest and which moved and bulged and stood on its end as the light changed and the minutes ticked on.

But our group was ready to respond in kind. They formed a night choir with the sounds that they had created, voices singing in unison. When the sleeper appeared upside down in the bed, the group giggled. When she fell to the floor behind the bed, they gasped.

In this calm, familiar space, everyone had their own way of being at ease. Some lay amongst the pillows, others watched attentively, and others let us know what they thought with words. Everyone’s way of responding was welcomed.

As the sleeper’s night progressed, our group saw their own drawings reappearing in her dreams, and hear their own names sung out to the accompaniment of the cello. They performed an echoing lullaby and told their bedtime stories by mirroring the movements they saw onstage. At each moment they recognised what we’d created together before today.

Eventually it seemed that the sleeper had finally found rest and when we saw beds made of pillows scattered around, our group knew exactly what to do. Familiarity is in the detail; knowing exactly when and how you feel comfortable. Each member of the group chose a place to rest. A place to find a moment of calm and quiet.

With thanks to Great Oaks School and The Point.

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