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The Seashell Stew

About What's Coming out of the Box
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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 minute audio play.

It provides entertainment and food for thoughts. ‘The Seashell Stew’ is inspired by 'The Stone Soup' and is the perfect community 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.

The Seashell Stew Christmas Show Box at
Unique Selling Points
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  • Great outreach tool

  • Great Christmas present

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

  • Distanced uncancellable screen-free fun for families to do together.

  • Alternative to pantos or festive shows.

  • Inclusive universal folk story with a community focus (not just for Christmas)

  • Original audio play with original music and sound design.

  • Original design and artwork on high-quality print.

  • Hand printed boxes.

Audience Development

While your focus is probably on welcoming people back into the building, there are still a lot of families who can't or won't come to an arts centre. If you're trying to reach out to those families and still with some COVID uncertainties: there is a need for high quality screen free activities, to get together in a meaningful way and relax.


"It’s helped us stay connected with our audiences. It is truly accessible as requires little internet access and can be listen to on a smart phone. There are a lot of advantages to the show box for reaching families beyond covid.” said Michelle Darwin from The Boo


70% of the families who took part in 'Sylvia', our previous postal project, had not attended any cultural event in the last 12 months (pre COVID). They said they were looking for “a fun way to engage with the arts”, 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.


This project created 45 days of work for 6 freelance artists who had lost most of their work due to COVID-19. Royalties will be paid to the creative team for the winter 2020-21 re-edition.


The impact of this type of work on audiences is always very difficult to measure beyond anecdotal feedbacks. 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” (

Sharon Goodyer, consultant for the National Food Strategy and CEO of Our Kitchen CIC, who distributed 200 boxes in Thanet during Christmas 2020 said: “Imagination needs feeding as well as bellies. A lot of grandparents come to ‘our shop’ and cook for the whole family. They’ve loved the show boxes and how the paper dolls reminded them of their childhood. I had a lot of feedback about how it triggered lovely conversations with their grandchildren. All our families were also very impressed by the quality and loved being treated with such respect.”

“Me and Billy have had a right few days arguing but we just had a really lovely few hours doing the theatre box kit. It’s been so lovely... Feeling chilled and wholesome rather than frazzled and mad with each other!”

Esther, Parent from The Boo


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 ( We will be working with them on evaluating the impact of the show boxes during winter 2021-22

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Arts Organisations

“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. We donated the boxes through our fit and fed project and the Christmas toy appeal – feedback from families, much appreciated and loved the kits. Thank you for helping us get something creative out in a very difficult time, they are little boxes of joy”

Lisa Allen, Touchstones Rochdale


“We donated 75 boxes through our outreach programme I think it was a great part of our Christmas offer, of a high standard and clearly appealing to our family audience.”

Adam Comstive, The Met

“We donated boxes to families in need across Lancashire through our partner HomeStart and to families connected to our Prisons project Making A Change. We also sold some through our ticketing website and I’m above amazed by the reach of these boxes we sent them all over the country and had lots of people ordering several boxes to send to family and friends. It’s helped us stay connected with our audiences while we are not able to open our doors. It is truly accessible as requires little internet access and can be listen to on a smart phone. There are a lot of advantages to the show box for reaching families beyond covid.”

Michelle Darwin, The Boo


“My son was totally engrossed, he said ‘look mum the page is coming alive!’ ”

Parent from The Boo

"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, Thanet parent

My 3 year old has been engrossed in painting all the clothes and houses etc for an hour and he is now doing his own painting with the paint and brushes.”

Amy Glendinning, parent from Touchstones

"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 parent


“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!”

Leila Evans, parent from Touchstones

“My daughter listened to the story three times while colouring, before then getting stuck into creating her own show. The materials included were of a good quality and her imagination had been sparked to search around the house for additions.”

Emma Sutton, Thanet parent

“It’s super classy, we don’t normally get stuffs as nice as that. It was great to see the kids absorbed with something other than screen. Reminded me of my Christmas mornings and how we used to play we paper dolls. Was nice to share that with them”

Thanet grandparent


“Me and Billy have had a right few days arguing but we just had a really lovely few hours doing the theatre box kit. It’s been so lovely... Feeling chilled and wholesome rather than frazzled and mad with each other!”

Esther, Parent from The Boo


“Thank you soooo much for Christmas show in a box - Your box is keeping my 9 and 6 year old hugely entertained and occupied!! Can’t wait to see the results later.”

Parent from the MET


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.

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So far the Show Boxes have been distributed by:

  • Artsdepot

  • Brighton Festival

  • Doorstep Arts

  • The Boo

  • The Met

  • Touchstones Rochdale

  • What's Coming out of the Box

  • Worcester Live

With the support of:

  • Albert Burns Children Trust Fund

  • Artsdepot

  • The Boo

  • The Loveday Family Grassroots Endowed Fund

  • The Met

  • Touchstones Rochdale

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. A lot of venues chose to gift some of the boxes to groups they’re working with or families they would like to engage with and put the other ones on for sale.  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:

  • 1 token to listen to the 20 min audio play (card with link to listen to it) and a link to download the script. This is an original play with original music and sound design.

  • 5 x A4 cards with cut out puppets, costume and set with original design and artwork.

  • 1 sheet of tissue paper

  • 1 pair of scissors

  • 1 box of colouring pencils

  • 1 glue stick

  • 1 pencil sharpener

  • 1 flyer with explanation and option to carry on the experience online.

You can watch the wrapping of a box here - and an unboxing there.

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