The latest episode of the Forever Mancunians podcast features Shaun O’Brien from Theatre of the Senses (Tots), a Trafford-based sensory theatre company. The interview sheds light on both the inspiring work Tots does and highlights some of the challenges they face.

Theatre of the Senses create theatre productions that engage sight, smell, hearing, and even taste while providing a platform for people of all abilities and backgrounds to generate and experience theatre in an inclusive way.

Shaun O’Brien was introduced to theatre after taking part in his band, Coexistence, and also attending college at the Open Learning Centre, where he was encouraged to continue with his creative skills. This led to him taking part in a BTEC performing arts course, finishing with distinctions across the board. He then joined Point Blank Theatre in Sheffield after finishing at Salford University, catapulting him into the world of theatre.

Securing funding is becoming increasingly difficult for Tots, as funders appear to be tightening criteria and demanding more from applicants. Tots discuss how seeking funding from some providers can be unfairly restrictive. For example, they once had an application rejected simply due to a lack of social media presence!

The cost-of-living crisis is also impacting people’s ability to participate. An increase in requests for help with basic necessities such as food, highlight broader societal challenges that also impact Tots’ work.

Despite current challenges and frustrations, Tots remain committed to its mission of inclusivity and development.

Their belief is that “the smallest development opportunities” can make a significant positive impact on individuals. The Forever Mancunians podcast highlights the valuable work of Tots while also raising awareness of the challenges faced by small, community-focused organisations.

Check out the Forever Mancunians Podcast Episode 15 featuring Sean O’Brien and Jenny from Theatre of the Senses here: