Fingers, Toes and Happy Toddlers

Relaxing and Calming Early Years Theatre.

Nicola Elliot’s Fingers And Toes, My Body Knows was an exciting addition to the programme for Early Years at the Cradle of Creativity.

With the audience each being given a cushion upon entry into the theatre, it was hard not to feel an immediate sense of calm and relaxation. An ethereal quality to the space was accomplished through gentle stage lighting and serene music. Sound was a key component of this production, with the background music complemented by a soundscape of hand claps, bells and the audience (encouraged by the performers) rubbing their hands together. You can hear a short compilation (2 minutes) of the various sounds from the show here:


Parents were immediately encouraged “not to mediate their [the toddlers’] experience too much”, and not to worry if they were not paying attention. As such, the toddlers in the audience added to the sounds with repeated calls of “Hello!” to the cast and squeals of excitement when a colourful set of red and green cushions and soft toys were unveiled beneath a cream coloured cloth.

The stage looked very much like a big bed, and the calming yet playful choreography would certainly not be out of place immediately before toddler’s bed time. The two cast members began with almost symmetric movements, before becoming less rigid and more expressive in their physicality as they jumped up on each other, fell to the floor and then took a lie down.

The excited attempts of one of the toddlers to jump over the little wall demarcating the audience from the stage were not in vain as, at the end of the performance, the whole audience was invited to join in the fun onstage, playing with the cushions and the performers.

Fingers And Toes, My Body Knows was directed and choreographed by Nicola Elliot, and performed by Siphumeze Khundayi and Thalia Larie.

An Applied Theatre Practitioner with experience in international Drama Education, Community Theatre and Theatre for Development, Chris’ ongoing research interests centre around the documentation of Community Performance practice for the purposes of monitoring & evaluation, advocacy and training. Recent projects include facilitating participatory documentation of Community Circus, Dance, Theatre and Storytelling practice in Ethiopia, South Africa and Zambia, documenting large conferences around the world, as well as conducting Impact Assessment studies for organisations in the UK and USA. His other work includes Arts-based Curriculum Development consultancy, as well as authoring other Evaluative Research projects.