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, and now: The Seashell Stew.

About The Seashell Stew

The Seashell Stew is a ‘Show in a Box’.

 

Each ‘Show Box’ contains 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 provides entertainment and food for thoughts. ‘The Seashell Stew’ is inspired by 'The Stone Soup' and is the perfect communit story: 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.

  • 'Plug and play': everything is in the box, nothing to prepare, get or buy.

  • 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 on high-quality print.

  • Hand printed boxes.

Audience Development

It has been a tough year for everyone. It is very likely that some sort of social distancing will still be in place for a while. 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 donated 500 boxes to families who have been struggling this winter.

Impact

This project has created 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’ brings families and communities together, offering entertainment and stress relief during a difficult time.

Feedback

“The boxes were clearly made with care and I was amazed by how many things were included, which ended up being a big sell – ‘the box comes with everything you need’!”

Talia Crouch, Worcester Live

 

“It was a unique and beautiful gift in a time when we cannot go to the theatre: a great way to reach families and continue audience development – staying connected to our communities.”

Lisa Allen, Touchstones Rochdale 

"It was lovely to do something creative as a family. The show box is well structured, easy to use and good fun! I love that we can continue to use it to create our own new shows too!"

Chleo's Dad

"Thank you soooo much for the show in a box - Seashell Stew. There’s no childcare available thanks to endless COVID. Your box is keeping my 9 and 6 year old hugely entertained"

MET audience

"The show boxes are amazing! I love the thought, care and creativity that has gone into these! It's such a brilliant idea and so well done."

Cameron Dougherty, Thanet audience

“ We had the premiere of our little performance at the weekend and so far it's getting rave reviews! I have to say that I was very impressed with the resources and the recording. Very well executed. Great effort by all who contributed! We will definitely look to create another little performance in the coming lockdown months!”

Leila Evans, audience member

Cost

Venues and arts organisation can purchase boxes for £9/box (min order 50).

Shipping to your venue (or alternative address is included). It is your responsibility to then deliver the boxes to the audience.

Questions you haven't asked yet

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

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