Children in hospital and care home residents watched a Christmas pantomime beamed live to remote screens after a pioneering initiative by the Exeter Northcott Theatre.
Youngsters in the RD&E’s Bramble Ward enjoyed a performance of Beauty and the Beast on Tuesday, December 10.
The live stream was made possible thanks to a generous £3,900 donation from the Exeter Chiefs Foundation.
An audience gathered in the hospital ward’s school room, joining in with the interactive fun, while some accessed the live feed from mobiles and others watched on devices from their beds.
At the same time, pensioners gathered around screens in residential homes, including Harbour Rise in Paignton, to enjoy the festive play.
After the show, cast members visited the ward, handing out signed programmes and posters and singing Christmas carols.
Artistic Director and Chief Executive Daniel Buckroyd, who wrote and directed the show, said:
“Pantomime is one of the things that makes Christmas special but unfortunately some people are simply not able to make it to the theatre.
“There are challenges to webcasting shows but we try to be as innovative as possible, particularly when it comes to access performances.
“The Exeter Chiefs Foundation has been incredibly generous in supporting this initiative. We launched live streaming last year and we hope to be able to make these events more regular.”
The audience at the 10.30am performance was made up mostly of local schools.
Beauty and the Beast is the second show to be beamed live to a remote location by the theatre, following a webcast of Jack and the Beanstalk last year.
It was streamed online, via You Tube, but restricted to a small, remote audience.
The production follows the fortunes of Belle, the most beautiful girl in Paris, played by Sarah Moss.
Moss visited Bramble Ward after the show along with Samson Ajewole, who plays Prince Valentin.
Anna Stolli, who plays the evil enchantress, Nightshade, and Francesca Pim, who plays Belle’s sister Soufflé, also met children on the ward.
The Exeter Chiefs Foundation awarded a grant to the Northcott to fund the purchase of video equipment to set up live streams.
Trustee Keiron Northcott said: “The Northcott Theatre is a huge asset to Exeter’s arts and entertainment scene and we’re proud to have been able to support them with this project.
“Particularly during the festive season, it’s great that the theatre is now able to reach audiences in different communities and allow more people to enjoy the arts.”
Among the locations to sign up to the feed were Stallcombe House, which provides residential accommodation, and a place of work and personal development, for up to 27 adults with learning disabilities in Exeter.
Green Tree Court, a care home also in Exeter, also joined in.
Merle Weiner, Head of Activities, said: “Our Residents thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
“Green Tree Court Care and Nursing Home would like to thank the Northcott Theatre for organising for our residents to be able to watch Beauty and the Beast live from the theatre.
“It was wonderful that all our residents could enjoy the panto and the smiles and joy on their faces was evidence that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the show.”
Exeter Northcott Theatre
Box Office: 01392 726363
Exeter Northcott Theatre is one of the South West’s leading professional theatres. Located at the heart of the University of Exeter’s campus, the Northcott draws an annual audience in excess of 100,000 from across Exeter, Devon and the wider region with its programme of exceptional live performance and creative learning.
Our programme focuses on creation, the critically-acclaimed theatre we make; curation, the extraordinary touring work we bring to Exeter; and collaboration, the projects we deliver in a range of creative partnerships.
We have recently launched a three-year strategic plan outlining our vision of the Northcott as a vibrant artistic hub at the heart of the cultural life of Exeter and the South West; a centre for collaboration between artists and academics; a pipeline for regional creative and technical talent; a producer of mid-scale touring theatre with a particular focus on drama, work for children and families, and new voices from the South West.
Exeter Northcott Futures – a comprehensive, new programme of funding and support to develop theatre-making talent – was launched in October 2019. The three-tier project offers professional development for individual artists at the start of their careers, through the Early Career Artists Programme, tailored packages of support for regionally-based companies at a critical moment in their development, through the Associate Company Programme, and a launch pad for the next generation of producers with a Producers Programme.