If ever there was a year that needed Christmas, it’s this one and Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker has it all. Every household is invited to join Prince Charming from the comfort of home at 7pm on Tuesday 22 December as he throws open the palace gates for his annual Christmas ball, a festive fairy-tale adventure sprinkled with surprises, sparkle and a hint of magic.
We have welcomed support from our two local authorities to bring one of the most loved Christmas traditions to residents, care homes and schools across Hull, the East Riding and beyond in an uplifting shared theatrical experience later this month.
Rehearsals for the Christmas show, written and directed by Artistic Director Mark Babych, were just about to begin when the country went into its second national lockdown. With continued restrictions, uncertainty and acknowledgement of the impact art and culture has on wellbeing, our two local authorities have stepped in to not only ensure the show can go on, but that it can be enjoyed by households across the region and beyond, connecting families even if they’re not watching from the same sofa.
An interactive experience, with behind-the-scenes footage and unique backstage views, will make the streamed performance different to watching a film or show on TV. After the initial streaming on Tuesday 22 December, the performance will be available on demand until 3 January, with schools, care homes and community groups encouraged to join in the festivities, with accompanying workshops and resource packs available.
Janthi Mills-Ward, Hull Truck Theatre Executive Director, said “This is the first time we’ve worked together with our two local councils to fund something like this and we’re thrilled to be able to offer residents a magical Christmas experience at the end of such a challenging year.
“Engaging in arts and culture has been found to be associated with increased well-being and we can’t thank Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council enough for their support. We hope this innovative collaboration brings a little joy and happiness to residents, schools and care homes, with a shared experience for families and friends to enjoy together, whether as seasoned or first time theatre goers.
Councillor Stephen Brady, leader of Hull City Council, said: “It’s been a tremendously difficult year for all of us. Christmas is a special time, but sadly this year certain Christmas traditions cannot be celebrated in the usual ways.
Going to the theatre, whether it be to see a pantomime or a retelling of one of our favourite Christmas tales, is, for many people, one of the highlights of the festive period.
“Credit to Hull Truck for ensuring families and residents can still enjoy and experience the fun of the theatre this Christmas. Hull City Council is delighted to be able to support the performance and we wish all residents a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.”
Councillor Richard Burton, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to contribute to this exciting project, which we see as vital in engaging with all our local audiences in these challenging times.
“Whether residents at home, schools, or residents in care homes, we all need the uplift that the performing arts can bring, and the connections it can make between us all. I’m really looking forward to seeing what promises to be a real cracker of a show!”
Janthi added: “Alongside this exciting project we have been working in partnership with KCOM to release four short family Christmas films in the run up to Christmas that are set across Hull and East Riding as we continue to connect friends, families and communities through the magic of storytelling.”
Mark Babych, Artistic Director at Hull Truck Theatre said: “Christmas is a time of year when fairy-tale heroes and villains are a firm feature in the plays and pantos so many of us love to experience as part of the festive calendar. Covid-19 is certainly this year’s villain but this year we have so many heroes to thank.
“We’re delighted the show can be enjoyed by audiences across the region and that we can continue to support artists and freelancers in what’s been an incredibly difficult year for the industry.”
Can’t make 22 December? No problem. The performance will be available for residents and care homes to watch from 23 December to 3 January, while schools and community groups will have access for the weeks commencing 4 and 11 January with an accompanying resource pack.
Tickets aren’t required, the YouTube link will be made available on our website via www.hulltruck.co.uk/christmas-stream.