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Daniel Swift - To The Moon and Back Interview

Concrete Youth presents a revamped version of their 2019 show To The Moon And Back which is heading out on a UK tour. 

To The Moon And Back is a multi-sensory experience with magical storytelling exploring space, adventure and the importance of family, for young audiences with profound and multiple learning difficulties.

The show is written by Daniel Swift who I was fortunate enough to sit down with and talk about the show in further detail.

Could you please tell me a little about the show in your own words?
The show is a beautiful exploration of imagination, storytelling, family and grief. Alex is a young child who has recently lost their mum. As a result, the family home is now just Alex and Dad, Gareth. Trying to support Alex and make a living, Gareth is working overtime, night shifts, three jobs, anything he can do to keep the roof over his and Alex's head. Yet, as a result, Alex and Gareth's relationship is suffering. 

In the midst of the hard nights and the lonely days, Alex takes to writing stories. Specifically, stories about space. On one fateful night, Alex will be joined by Lena, their babysitter (or childminder, as Alex prefers to call her) on the trip of a lifetime into outer space, the Moon and Mars. By the end of the show, Alex and Gareth have reunited and are closer than ever. We take the audience with us on the show as our 'Astronauts' - it's magical.

What were your/the origins of the project?
I actually wrote the original version of the production at uni in 2014. I wrote it for a bit of fun when I was procrastinating from doing my actual degree. I closed my laptop, and the script sat in my Dropbox until 2019. When Concrete Youth was born, there was the question of what our first show would be and To the Moon and Back came back to me when I just happened to be browsing through my Dropbox from years ago. It was a true lightbulb moment of 'a sensory space show'. It all fitted together. So, we gutted the show, pulled it apart, put it back together and made it fit for our audience. Our process is truly starting with our audience, sensory play and what our audience needs and then building a show with them at the driving wheel, rather than taking a show and trying to make it accessible for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities.

The 2023 tour is a revamping of the 2019 version, what developments has been made for the show?
Since 2019, Concrete Youth has come a long way. We've toured the UK, reached over 4,500 audience members across 5 continents and established ourselves as a national sensory theatre company. We wanted to bring back To the Moon and Back, the show has needed a tour since its origin, but it needed a revamp, we wanted to take it to a new level, to heighten the immersivity of the production. Our characters go to space in the show, it only seemed right to take our audiences along with us and place them right in the experience.

The show is aimed at audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD); how do you go about approaching the work?
Our audience is at the heart of our work. We make work with and for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Our audience are with us throughout the developmental and rehearsal process, right up until the final performance. They truly are at the driving wheel. They know what is best for them, so we work alongside them to let them decide what they want. Our work is, and always will, have sensory engagement as the central focus. We love it - it takes our shows and makes them so much more inclusive, immersive and magical. Plus, who doesn't love bubbles, shiny things and smelly goodies? 

Do you have to do any tailored research when you’re making a production for the target audience?
All of our team are specialists in sensory theatre for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities. We also work with international researchers and specialists to support the development of new work and engage carers, teachers, experts and more in rehearsals to ensure that a diversity of voices is included in the making of our productions. It's essential that we get our shows right, and we bring the best people on board to facilitate that.

What do you hope someone takes away from seeing the piece?
There is a severe lack of cultural provision for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Many audiences who come to our show are visiting the theatre for the very first time.
Honestly, I'd just love for people to come, enjoy the show and experience the magic of theatre. There is an extremely small number of theatre companies touring work exclusively for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities, so I'd absolutely love for the audience to come and engage and immerse themselves in a world that has been designed and created exclusively for them.

Why would you say someone should come and see the show?
The show is magical, it has an incredible cast of actor-musicians, stunning 360-degree projection of space, the Moon and Mars, beautiful music, a gorgeous story and most importantly, it's designed exclusively for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Come along and see us on tour!

To The Moon And Back Tours beginning in Leeds on 24th and 25th March and visits Salford, Dorchester, Bury, Hull, Doncaster, Scunthorpe, Cambridge, Colchester, Didcot, Edinburgh and Birmingham. You can find ticket details and further information at

Check out the trailer for the show:

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