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There are 49,000 children and young people in the UK living with a life-threatening or life-limiting condition, and just over 50 children's hospices in the UK. Some of these are funded privately; most have some government or local authority funding. They are able to take some children on trips and outings but very few of them have the disposable funds to pay for performances such as ours. We compliment the amazing medical and care work the hospices provide by bringing an engaging, lively and stimulating show of the highest artistic merit into the hospices to entertain children, families and carers, who often find it difficult during the festive period.
Our 2020 Tour is 'Benson's Christmas Letter'
Our puppets Benson, Maurice the Monkey and Harry, beautifully drawn by Anne-Louise Richards
Our 2020 Touring Plans -
In response to Covid-19
In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, we are unable to deliver the large tour we had initially set out for C4K in 2020. Every year C4K tries to expand its outreach, and this year we were hoping to visit hospices/hospitals and SEN schools in Northern Ireland for the first time. Due to the amount of forward planning required, the vulnerable nature of our audiences, and the uncertain climate, we have decided to delay this expansion until 2021 at the earliest. But we are not to be beaten, and we still wanted to get to all the children's hospices in the UK this year, so we came up with...
a Digital show!
About the Show
We are bringing a digital version of our show ‘Benson’s Christmas Letter’ to all 60 children's hospice venues across the UK that we had intended to tour to live this year. Due to the flexibility of the digital model, we also intend to distribute the show to 300 SEND schools throughout the UK too! We will rehearse 3 actors, who have all previously toured live with C4K, then film in a Green Screen studio - combining live theatre, animation and videography to create a vivid, exciting and engaging show specially designed for children with complex needs and life-limiting illness.
The performance will feature our signature blend of harmony singing, music, storytelling and puppetry. The interactive element of our live shows will remain in direct address, POV sequences, and the use of props, instruments and light stimuli available in the hospices and schools - as directed by an accompanying Resource E-pack.
Animated graphics and colourful backdrops will stimulate our audiences visually, and we will offer versions with Makaton, BSL and captioning throughout.
Our hospice care team contacts were very positive about the idea: - "This idea to digitise your show sounds great. Our children and families get so much from your shows, and given the circumstances a digitised version would certainly be the next best thing" Senior Carer, St Andrews Hospice
SUE APPLEBY - Actor 2 & Musical Director
Sue is delighted to be back performing for C4K for the first time since 2016!
She has performed in over 25 countries worldwide and UK venues including the National Theatre, The Royal Albert Hall and London's West End.
Sue founded Christmas for Kids in 2009.
BRENDAN MAGEEAN - Actor 3
Brendan will perform in the role of Actor 3, taking on a variety of roles in this year’s show.
Brendan graduated in 2019 from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance with a BAHons in Musical Theatre Performance. Since then he has appeared in ‘The News Review’ (Canal Cafe Theatre) and the 2019 Christmas for Kids winter tour ‘Harry’s Christmas Spirit’, as well as holding table readings for his first play.
ELIZABETH ROBIN - Benson
Elizabeth Robin will be playing the character Benson.
Elizabeth trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Recent Theatre credits include ‘All Hands on Deck, Redcoats’ - Mikron Theatre Company, ‘Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk’ - Cast Theatre, ‘The Little Mermaid’ - Liverpool Everyman Theatre, ‘Harry’s Christmas Adventure’- Christmas For Kids, ‘Sanctuary’ - Tristan Bates Theatre, Stockwell Playhouse
BENSON - Performer (puppet)
Benson has been a member of the Christmas for Kids team since the company was founded in 2009. He has appeared in every show with C4K, and some (namely him) even call him The Star of the show. He is an expert singer, and very funny - in fact, he often refers to himself as "The Best One".
In between engagements with C4K, Benson can be found in the heart of London as a tour guide. His favourite London attraction is Big Ben(son). Benson can often be found on Twitter: @Bensonpuppet
CLAIRE SUNDIN - Artistic Director
Claire has worked as a professional actor, singer and drama facilitator for nearly 20 years.
Her journey began with C4K in 2009 and is a founding member of the team. Having performed in numerous hospice shows, she tried her hand at directing and producing them and hasn't looked back. She is honoured and excited to be directing C4K's first digital show and hopes everyone watching will enjoy the silliness and have lots of fun!
KATIE HECHT - Production Manager
Katie has been working with C4K for 4 years. As a performer she has been lucky enough to tour with the company, as well as an extensive career in Theatre, Film, TV and Radio.
Since moving to taking a mainly ‘behind the scenes’ role with C4K, Katie has expanded her repertoire into Stage/Production Manager, helping get the productions up on their feet and out on Tour. This year, she is excited to use her knowledge of the Digital medium and transfer our beloved Christmas shows into this new format.
CHRIS THATCHER - Puppetry Consultant
Chris trained at Mountview Theatre School.
Chris’s credits include:
Puppeteer on The Dark Crystal Age Of Resistance - Netflix
Shloppy - Online Puppet Web Series
Muppet Puppeteer on Muppets Most Wanted (Feature Film)
Bertie Beep and his Talking Sheep on Grandpa in my Pocket (CBeebies)
Dolmio, Purple Bricks, Soreen, Good Energy, The New York Bagel Company
Other credits include:
Trekkie Monster in Avenue Q (UK Tour)
Alternate Joe Casey in Our House The Musical, Winner of Olivier Best New Musical (Cambridge Theatre)
GARETH TEMPEST - Writer
Gareth is an actor and graduate of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He has performed in productions across the UK and in London’s West End.
He also works extensively with children with special educational needs, within a school setting, working mainly with children aged between 4 -18.
Gareth credits his love for developing accessible work for young audiences to his time working at the school and incorporates some of the wonderful ways he observes children expressing and communicating within the heart of his Christmas for Kids scripts.
LAURA KAYE THOMSON - Associate Writer
Laura trained in Musical Theatre performance at Mountview Academy.
She works as an actor, singer, writer, composer and even a Fairy Godmother.
Other current projects include developing her first musical with Selladoor Creation and working for theatre company Zoo Co as a performer, composer and facilitator. She is passionate about both music and theatre and in particular, community and educational outreach.
LOADED PRODUCTIONS - Videography
Loaded Productions have been established for 15 years and has made over 750 corporate, training and creative films, significantly in the health and social care arenas, for clients including Public Health England, NHS England and numerous NHS Foundation Trusts such as University College London Hospital, The Royal London and The Royal Free.
They have produced films for a number of charities including Barts Health, Age UK, The Teenage Cancer Trust and Camphill Village Trust. In social care, they have made films for the National Autistic Society and, for Learn With Us, they have created ground breaking films and training resources for family carers and services.
SIMON ROWE - Designer
Simon was born and raised in Worcester and trained at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA). As an actor, Simon has worked on national and international tours, regional theatre, London's West End and in television. Art credits: Scenery and props for C4K, props, puppets and poster art for Ripley Theatre Productions; 'The Little Tempest' (Edinburgh festival), 'Rumpelstiltskin', 'Jack and the Beans...talk!' (Brighton festival), set and puppets for Zara Nunn's short film 'Don't Look Behind You' and, most recently, fabrication of Macbeth's head for 'Macbeth' Epstein theatre, Liverpool.
Of this year's show, Simon says, "This year has presented us with a big challenge but I am thrilled to be part of adapting our show and working in a brand new medium. In true Christmas for Kids style, this year's adventure has had me designing wacky landscapes and interiors and fabricating sledges, jungle flowers and a puppet-sized armchair to name a few. I am excited for all those young people who get to experience this year's magical show."
Animation/Digital Design - Scriberia (https://www.scriberia.co.uk)
Associate DoP/Lighting - Simon Weekes (http://simonweekesdop.com)
Music Recording - Porcupine Studios (http://porcupinestudios.co.uk)
Music Editing - Peter Walsh - (https://www.pjnorthernboymedia.com)
Backing Tracks created by - Eamonn O'Dwyer (https://www.eamonnodwyer.com)
Green Screen Studio - Camberwell Studios (http://www.camberwellstudios.co.uk)
Administration - Maria Crawford
Rehearsal Space kindly donated by HARGRAVE HALL (https://www.hargravehall.co.uk)
In 2020, we aim to deliver our digital show to 60 children's hospices and related venues (listed) throughout the whole of the UK. We also aim to distribute the show to 300 SEND schools in the UK's most disadvantaged areas. Follow our cast & creative teams' journeys via their Blog.
Zoom in on the map to see our 2020 Hospice tour venues!
Northern Ireland Children's Hospice, Horizon House, Newtonabbey, NI
National Autistic Society NI Autism Centre, Castlereagh, NI
The Children’s Cancer Unit Charity, Belfast, NI
Rosstulla School, County Antrim, NI
Brookfield School, Craigavon, NI
Acorn’s for the Three Counties, Worcester
Acorn’s in Birmingham, Birmingham
Alexander Devine, Berkshire
Andy’s at St Andrew’s Hospice, North East Lincolnshire
Bluebell Woods Hospice, Sheffield
Brian House Children’s Hospice, Blackpool
Chailey Heritage Foundation, East Sussex
Chestnut Tree Hospice, West Sussex
CHSW Charlton Farm, Bristol
Claire House, Merseyside
Demelza House, Sittingbourne, Kent
Demelza South East London, Eltham
Derian House, Lancashire
Donna Louise Children’s Hospice, Stoke on Trent
EACH Milton, Cambridge
EACH Quidenham, Norwich
EACH The Treehouse, Ipswich
Eleanor Lyons (CHYPS), Kent
Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice, West Yorkshire
Francis House, Manchester
Haven House Hospice, Essex
Helen & Douglas House, Oxfordshire
Hope House, Shropshire
Julia’s House, Broadstone
Julia’s House, Devizes
Keech Hospice Care, Luton
Little Bridge House, Barnstaple
Little Harbour, Cornwall
Little Haven Hospice, Essex
Martin House, Wetherby
Naomi House, Winchester
Noah’s Ark Hospice, Hertfordshire
Rachel House, Kinross, Scotland
Rainbows Hospice, Leicestershire
Richard House Hospice East London
Robin House, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland
Shooting Star Christopher’s, Surrey
Shooting Star Hospice, Hampton
St Oswald’s, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Ty Gobraith, Conwy, Wales
Ty Hafan, Sully, Wales
Zoe’s Place, Coventry
Zoe’s Place, Liverpool
Zoe’s Place, Middlesborough