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The wonders of sensory development explored in new light and sound installation for babies and toddlers at the Barbican

image of baby and grown up and light installation

Daniel Nadaffy / Marty Langthorne
First Light

This December, the Barbican presents First Light in The Pit, a theatrical installation made especially for babies and toddlers. The production is co-created by theatre-maker Daniel Naddafy and artist and lighting designer Marty Langthorne and co-commissioned by the Barbican. First Light goes on sale to Barbican Patrons today, to Barbican Members Plus on Thursday 14 October, to Members on Friday 15 October and on general sale on Monday 18 October 2021.

First Light is an immersive, intimate experience that explores the wonders of our sensory development in early childhood. Inspired by ‘baby lab’ research into the developing senses of babies in their first 18 months, this 15-minute installation, for one household at a time, distills the world of awakening perception into an enthralling show. Babies and toddlers up to 18 months-old, along with their grown-ups, are invited to sit, crawl, lie-down or stand-up as they bathe in sound and light. The specially created soundscape of domestic and everyday sounds harmonise with and echo the progression of a newborn’s hearing.

Whilst at the Barbican, families and carers can also visit the reopened free creative play area, Squish Space, in the Level G studio. With a variety of materials and tactile objects on hand, it’s a place to spin, jump, hide and touch where the under 5s learn together through interaction, collaboration, and play. Squish Space is produced by artists India Harvey and Lisa Marie Bengtsson in collaboration with Barbican Creative Learning. Squish Space is limited to 16 adults and children and advance online booking is necessary.

Daniel Naddafy is a theatre maker and performer based in London, who creates work for young audiences. His acclaimed solo performance for babies, Glisten, has toured to over twenty venues in the UK. Naddafy has developed work with the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre of Korea, Stratford Circus and Kali Theatre, and has performed in venues across the UK and internationally in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. Naddafy was Artist-in-Residence at the Oxford Playhouse in 2018-19 where he developed an adaptation of The Flower by John Light.

Marty Langthorne is a London-based artist and lighting designer whose work encompasses live art, theatre, performance, dance and fine art. He has worked with companies including Pacitti Company, Duckie, Scottee, Bryony Kimmings, Kim Noble and Figs in Wigs. Langthorne’s longstanding relationship with the Barbican began in 2002 with William Yang’s Bloodlinks, and he has since presented Copyright Christmas and Lullaby with Duckie (2011), collaborated with Dickie Beau on Camera Lucida (2014) and Lauren Barri Holstein on Splat (2013) and Notorious (2017). His theatre and live art and performance work has toured extensively in the UK and internationally. Langthorne’s previous work for children includes The Iron Man and Laika (Unicorn Theatre) and The Adventures of Curious Ganz (Silent Tide/Little Angel Theatre).

The Barbican believes in creating space for people and ideas to connect through its international arts programme, community events and learning activity. To keep its programme accessible to everyone, and to keep investing in the artists it works with, the Barbican needs to raise more than 60% of its income through ticket sales, commercial activities and fundraising every year. Donations can be made here:

Listings information

First Light
Daniel Naddafy & Marty Langthorne
Lighting by Marty Langthorne
Sound by Daniel Naddafy
Wed 8–Sun 19 Dec 2021
No performances on Mon 13 and Tue 14 Dec 2021
The Pit
10am, 10.20am, 10.40am, 11am, 11.20am, 11.40am, 12pm, 12.20pm, 12.40pm, 1pm, 1.20pm, 1.40pm, 2pm, 2.20pm, 2.40pm; also 3pm, 3.20pm and 3.40pm on Thu 9 Dec, Fri 10 Dec, Sat 11 Dec and Wed 15 Dec 2021
15 minutes
This installation is specifically designed for babies between 0-18 months and their carer
£5 (1 ticket per performance to be used by a group of up to 4 people including the baby to come into the performance pod)
Press performances: Thu 9 Dec 2021, 10.20am, 11am, 11.40am, 12pm and 1pm

Presented and co-commissioned by the Barbican

Developed with support from Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, De Montford University and Half Moon Theatre