ACTORS with learning disabilities have collaborated on a new production looking at what they need to survive, and what they can’t live without.

Survival Kit, performed by Bradford theatre company Mind the Gap, is a newly devised contemporary show in which the 10 cast members each has a box containing their must-have items - from a collection of pop albums to a whoopee cushion.

Described as “a theatrical guide to survival in the 21st century”, the show explores issues of family, friendship, shelter and acceptance, and things we need to help us to function properly.

Paul has collected 20 years’ worth of NOW That’s What I Call Music albums; Lorraine can’t live without her ‘phone; Callum has a water pistol and a whoopee cushion; and Zara has a stack of programmes from her favourite musicals that she’s very attached to. Actor Paul Bates said: “I have been on a journey with the Survival Kit process. Devising together, using our own life stories and what Survival is to us, means the piece is really personal to me. It makes you laugh and feel sad and really makes you think what is important to you.”

Survival Kit has been devised by Academy Director Charli Ward, based on ideas contributed by the performers, and is choreographed by Karen Bartholomew. Director Charli Ward said: “The actors have contributed some brilliant answers to the question What can’t you live without? ‘Living close to my family’, ‘Taking that first sip of coffee in the morning to get me through the day’ and ‘Seeing people smile.’ We have all begun to appreciate even the small things that get us through life.”

Mind the Gap - one of Europe’s leading theatre companies for actors with learning disabilities, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year - has been developing the performers’ skills through its Academy, which offers a range of programmes and courses in acting, dance, music and multi-art forms. Students have landed roles in TV dramas such as Coronation Street, Casualty and Doctors. A 12-month anniversary celebration includes an outdoor show at the Imperial War Museum in London and Piece Hall, Halifax, in 2019.

* Survival Kit is at The Studio Theatre, Bradford, on Thursday, July 19 at 7.30pm. Call (01274) 432000.