The Seashell Stew
About What's Coming out of the Box
Our vision is to stretch families’ imaginations to create a better world together.
We bring innovative, multi-sensory and participatory work to audiences in places with low engagement in the arts. Our work starts with a question and our signature DIY aesthetic runs through all that we do. We encourage children’s drive to question the world around them and support parents to nurture their children's imagination and curiosity.
We are a Thanet-based company and tour nationwide. In recent years, our supporters have included Arts Council England via Project Grants, the Kent Community Foundation, Kent County Council, Canterbury City Council and the Gibbons Family Trust.
Since lockdown we have developed two COVID responsive works: ‘The Quest’, a participatory audio play and ‘Sylvia’, a postal interactive experience for families at home.
About The Seashell Stew
The Seashell Stew is a ‘Christmas Show in a Box’.
Each ‘Show Box’ will contain everything a family needs to create their own cut-out puppets and set to then act out as they listen to a 20 minutes audio play.
It will provide entertainment and food for thoughts during the festive season. ‘The Seashell Stew’ is inspired by 'The Stone Soup' and is the perfect story for this year: it is a widely spread folk story in which a hungry stranger convinces the people of a town to each share a small amount of their food in order to make a meal that everyone enjoys and brings the community together.
Unique Selling Points
Distanced uncancellable screen-free fun
Co-created with families
Great Christmas present and alternative to panto or festive shows
'Plug and play': everything is in the box, nothing to prepare.
Screen-free entertainment for families.
Inclusive universal folk story with a community focus (not just for Christmas)
Same artistic team as ‘The Quest’ and ‘Sylvia’
Original audio play with original music and sound design
Original design and artwork
It has been a tough year and this holiday season is going to be very hard on everyone. It is very likely that social distancing will still be in place and there will be little to no live entertainment. Digital fatigue has made its way into families and there is a need for high quality screen free activities, to get together in a meaningful way and relax.
70% of the families who took part in 'Sylvia', our last postal project, had not attended any cultural event in the last 12 months. They said they were looking for “a fun way to engage with the arts during COVID”, they mentioned a “constant need for stimulus particularly as the weather is deteriorating”. Some mentioned they were looking to “reconnect with [their] children during what was a stressful and difficult few months” and "weave a bit of magic into their world"
You can decide to sell the boxes just like show tickets, or you can donate them to a particular group or community you would like to work with. Here in Thanet, through various organisations, we are donating 500 boxes to families who are struggling this winter.
This project is creating create 45 days of work for 6 freelance artists who have lost most of their work due to COVID-19.
The impact of this type of work on audiences is always very difficult to measure, particularly while people are in isolation. However, studies show that “cultural engagement reduces stress and leads to longer, happier lives” and that “participatory arts activities help to alleviate anxiety, depression and stress” (https://www.culturehealthandwellbeing.org.uk/appg-inquiry/)
Clara Beard, one of the participants of ‘Sylvia’ said: "It is a really lovely programme, it helped us reconnect with each other and listen to each other and work together towards a common goal. I think it also helped us adults to slow down a bit and for the children to experience the value in helping others-it works to make everyone feel happier, not just the person who receives”.
We are part of People United's Artist Development Programme and they have published several reports highlighting how the arts can impact kind intentions and pro-social behaviour (https://peopleunited.org.uk/all-research/). Another ‘Sylvia’ participant, Siobhan McGhee, said: “It was a family encompassing and entertaining experience. It showed us how different we all were in what we felt helped and made us appreciate our differences.”
We hope that ‘The Stone Soup’ will bring families and communities together, offering entertainment and stress relief during a difficult festive season.
Venues and arts organisation can purchase boxes for £9/box.
Shipping to your venue (or alternative address is included). It is your responsibility to then deliver the boxes to the audience.
ORDERS NEED TO BE SENT BY THE 26TH OF NOVEMBER
Questions you haven't asked yet
When will we receive the boxes?
The boxes will be shipped on the 14th of December so you can distribute them on time for the Christmas Holiday.
Who will send the show boxes to our audience?
You. We will send you all the boxes you've ordered in a big box or boxes. Depending on the distancing rules at the time, you can choose to post them deliver them or ask your audience to come and pick them up.
How much shall I charge for the boxes?
It depends on which audience you would like to reach and how much you would like to subsidise them. You can also think about how much your audience would normally pay to come to a family show. Most venues are opting for a 'pay what you can' option with prices ranging from £10 to £20.
What's in the box contain?
In the box, you will find everything you need to create cut-out puppets and a set:
5 x A4 cards with cut out puppets, costume and set
1 sheet of tissue paper
1 pair of scissors
1 box of colouring pencils
1 glue stick
1 pencil sharpener
1 token to listen to the 20 min audio play (card with link to listen to it) and a link to download the script.
1 card with explanation