Sarah Punshon Portrait

HMR 17 Commission: The Vacuum Cleaner Project by Sarah Punshon/One Tenth Human

Following our open call for proposals, we are pleased to announce that our 2017 commission for a new piece of work for the under 12s (in partnership with Lancaster Arts) has been awarded to Sarah Punshon and her company One Tenth Human. Over the coming months, we will be working with Sarah to develop The Vacuum Cleaner Project which will premiere next Spring as part of our 2017 Festival.

Upon receiving the commission, Sarah said:

I’m really excited to have the chance to work with Hear Me Roar to develop this new piece. It’s a wonderful opportunity to push my work further. One Tenth Human was set up to create innovative arts-science projects – our debut show this year, We’re Stuck!, explored maths and robotics; this time we’ll be having all kinds of fun with vacuum cleaners and engineering.  I’m thrilled to be part of Hear Me Roar.


This is a vacuum cleaner. What shall we do with it? We could clean this carpet with it.
We could pretend it’s an alien and fight it.
We could dance with it.

We could take it apart, discover how it works, and decide how to build a better one. What would you like to do first?

The Vacuum Cleaner Project is a new show for family audiences, inspired by research from the WISE campaign, which works to encourage women and girls to study and build careers using science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).  The UK has the lowest proportion of women in STEM-related careers of any European country.  Research by the WISE Campaign indicates that children have generally decided by the age of about 10 whether or not they’re “STEM people” – and they rarely change their minds. 

Developed with 6 – 9 year olds through schools’ workshops, the project aims to give both boys and girls the chance to enjoy themselves taking part in an engineering task with a theatrical twist: taking apart a Dyson vacuum cleaner and playfully exploring it using drama techniques.


Sarah Punshon is a Leeds-based theatre maker. She has directed for (amongst others) West Yorkshire Playhouse, New Vic Theatre, Theatre by the Lake, Watermill Theatre and Polka Theatre. Her own company, One Tenth Human, recently created its debut show, We’re Stuck! (commissioned by Shoreditch Town Hall and Z-arts, Manchester, produced by China Plate Theatre).

Sarah spent 2012/13 curating a programme of live arts events for families at the Natural History Museum, working with artists including Andy Field, Emma Frankland, Laura Frankland and Holly Gramazio. She has since created large-scale live events for Manchester Museum and the Wellcome Collection. She also works as a dramaturg, most recently on Daniel Bye’s shows Error 404 and the Fringe First Award-winning Going Viral. Later this year she’ll work as dramaturg on Rob Evans’ new interactive show for primary schools, Level Playing (Theatre Centre). Her adaptation of Agatha Christie’s early thriller, The Secret Adversary, toured nationally last year and is being revived at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch this autumn under its new title, Partners in Crime.


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