WHAT does it mean to follow a dream when you don’t fit in and the odds are stacked against you?

Mac's Arcadian ask this question in Great Odds, Esther McAuley's new play for six to 11 year olds, on tour at the York Theatre Royal Studio tomorrow at 1pm and 4.30pm.

A collaboration with deaf and hearing actors that integrates puppetry, visually unusual storytelling, socially conscious drama, music and sound with British Sign Language, this co-production with Poole's Lighthouse arts centre is the first show from Mac’s Arcadian, a company formed a year ago by McAuley.

"We've worked with two sign language interpreters in the rehearsal room, doing a very basic deaf awareness session for everyone at the start, but at no point is anyone’s disability named or labelled," she says. "The play is about communication and about what it might mean to follow a dream, literally and metaphorically."

Exploring ambition, communication and friendship, the story follows the Great Odds – Marco, Grouch and Jewels – on an exciting and sometimes wobbly journey in which dreams change shape, unexpected things are uncovered and success comes through surprising discoveries.

When their landlord The Big Boss hikes up the rent for the theatre that is their livelihood, the three insist they will find the money in 24 hours by creating a sell-out show to save the day.York Press:

Great Odds writer and director Esther McAuley

Working with the audience, they conjure a story about a puppet who sets out to follow a dream that escaped from its ear at night, but before they can finish, The Big Boss tells them she has had a much better offer from a supermarket chain and they must leave immediately.

When the three are turned out into the silent darkness, gradually self-generated lights twinkle into life and the Great Odds find a new way to tell their story and enable the puppet to follow its dream after all.

Funded by Arts Council England, Great Odds was developed in research and development sessions at the Unicorn Theatre and Improbable in London with read-throughs and informal sharings before being co-produced with Lighthouse.

"The aim of this project is to engage audiences throughout the UK, especially children and families who may face barriers accessing the language used in mainstream theatre productions touring locally to them," says Esther.

"It's incredibly exciting for me to be working in partnership with Lighthouse on Great Odds and, as well as a lot of practical support, it has been a great source of nurture and encouragement."

The deaf members of the cast are both sign language users and those who are hard of hearing and have English as their first language and may lip read and/or use hearing aids.

Tickets are on sale at £12, £7 for under sixes, on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk