How Scratchbuilt saved Christmas

Posted on 24th February 2021

Bringing children back where they belong, in a carefree world of imagination, dreams, magic, and pure joy

Basingstoke Gazette

Exactly two months on from the Final Christmas Eve performances of Your Christmas Needs You, the team reflect on why making the Christmas show this year, against all the odds, was ALWAYS the right thing to do.

For many local families the ScratchBuilt x Proteus in-house Christmas show has become a yearly tradition but by the end of the Summer last year, it became clear that with the ever-changing restrictions around the pandemic, no-one could really predict what might be happening in the weeks leading up to Christmas. However, this year it felt more important than ever to do something special to  ensure that we could still bring a bit of Christmas magic to our communities. Despite what many might view as potential barriers, we embraced the opportunity and challenge and vowed that CHRISTMAS WOULD NOT BE CANCELLED!

This felt even more special in some ways

…The result was  two different versions of Your Christmas Needs You , a digital-only and an in-person version giving the audience  the power decide how they would like to experience the show.

The in-person experience: A magical and immersive live show, tailored for a household/ support bubble of up to 6. The performance is a unique show for one group bubble only in the enchanting space.  In addition, other family members can be zoomed into the show, so they can also experience the magic too!

A live zoom- only version of the show:  With all the elements of the in-person experience (fully live and bespoke), with some unique elements/ games that can be done from home. The performers will be interacting directly with their audience on the screen. Ideal for those who are shielding/ vulnerable and cannot attend in person.

The first tickets released sold out within 10 minutes (!) so the team pulled out all the stops to squeeze in extra dates and performances.

I want to wind back time so I can watch it again!

Phoebe, aged 6

By the time the performances Basingstoke was in the Tier 2 category, so the in-person events were able to go ahead, but as we had predicted, some families found out they had to self isolate just a day before they were due to attend, and were able to switch their booked performance to a digital performance and not miss out on the magic!

Becky Kitter of Scratchbuilt explains why the challenge of creating a show to work in a pandemic actually gave them more creative freedom in many ways:

“We as a company felt really proud to create a show that was COVID safe but managed to retain all the elements that make our shows special. We were able to bring back a little bit of Christmas magic to families who needed a break from the stress of the pandemic.

In fact, this year felt even more special in some ways, because the audience was limited to 6, with just one family/support bubble per show we were able to do things that would be impossible in normal times with 40+ people in the audience. The children could paint, we threw balls, we jumped through hoops and took family photos!”

Something families and the press definitely agreed with!

Just been to see this with two very excited grandchildren, they absolutely loved it! Thank you for a marvelous diversion from all the depressing news! Well worth every penny.

Martin, via email

A delightfully charming production that captures the youngsters’ imagination with the magic of theatre.

Newbury Weekly News

A show like no other!

Basingstoke Gazette. Read the full review here.

During the pandemic, Scratchbuilt were also commissioned by Proteus to create several other projects including the online strorytelling series Conversations With Colin, created for very young children to promote wellbeing and to help them understand and talk about this confusing time with their families. They also create The Spooky Shed of Stories for the in-person, socially-distanced Signal Fires event; a campaign uniting touring theatre companies across the UK in simultaneous events embracing one of the oldest forms of theatre, storytelling around a campfire.

Proteus CEO and Artistic Director explains “At this incredibly difficult time, the ability for families split apart by the pandemic to experience a little magic together is vitally important. This innovative model enables a safe, fully live experience to be shared with Grandparents, friends and family across the world via the unique zoom link. This work is only made possible by the funding we receive from our local authority partners at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Arts Council South West; without this we could not create this work or support the many artists we work with on a daily basis. In these dark times the arts can bring sorely needed light, community and a hand on the shoulder to people disconnected from their  family and friends. That is what Proteus exists to do.”

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