a new children’s music theater piece with dance

suitable for opera, ballet, and experimental music theater

In a fantastical sensory forest, treechild Lauren is threatened.

Only when the inhabitants master what sets them apart can she be saved.


SHIMMER is an allegory of rebirth for neurodivergent children and their allies. While we embrace neurodivergent artists (Mike, himself has ADHD and dyslexia) this is not a piece to represent neurodiversity. Instead, SHIMMER represents our 8 senses featured in three peoples TREEWALKERS, HEARTHSTONES, and WINDOWMAKERS. The show will run about 45 minutes with an incorporated pre-show, movement/sensory breaks, and interactive set and survey rather than a traditional intermission and talk back. Ideally, the show would be performed with 12 singers, a children’s chorus and a small (12) orchestra, but our experience with a variety of projects and a desire to eventually tour prompted us to allow for flexibility. The show could be condensed for 4 puppeteers and pre-recorded music, 7 actors and a mix of live and pre-recorded musicians, or grow to absorb local talent.


Take a look at the methods behind Sensory Theatre’s pilot project SHIMMER presented at University College Dublin, 2021. We would love your feedback!


2018 Anita receives Artist Grant from Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council with funds provided by the McKnight foundation and begins writing SHIMMER with mentor/collaborator composer Mike von der Nahmer

2019 October 21-26: Workshop  

Anita and Mike workshopped SHIMMER with singers Shealyn Kawleski and Samantha Scholl. Making sure music and words would work well together, looking out for connecting dialogue, songs and overall shaping the idea behind the story and its characters.  

October 26, 2018: Public Reading (partially staged)

SHIMMER was presented in the first reading of about 20 minutes to an audience of young and old.   

Concluded by a Talkback that would focus on any visceral or emotional experiences of the audience.  

  • Audience appreciated the condensed speech of the TREEWALKERS, lulling musical theme was transporting, cycle of seasons within plot, visceral keening of the HEARTHSTONES 
  • Audience would have liked more of an introduction into the development and sensory components, sparse staging and casting made it difficult to follow the plot, WINDOWMAKERS seemed menacing. 
Sam Scholl and Anita Prestidge as HEARTHSTONES grounding TREEWALKER LAUREN played by Shealyn Kawleski. (2019)

What’s Next?

Do you have space, funding, or talent?

Please contact us we are seeking a variety of resources to move SHIMMER forward:


  • Workshop and museum exhibition with visual artists generating ideas for set, costume, and marketing.
  • Workshop/performance/professional recording with the score.
  • Collaborate with a choreographer and workshop movement.
  • Collaborate with lighting, set and costume design.


  • Revision and Incubation.
  • Secure funding for full production.


  • Premiere
  • Tour


Research and documentation of best practices for neurodiversity in language, music, set, costume, lighting.