Puppeteers bring magic to sick children after fundraiser

Child in hospital bed watches theatre on a tablet as stage manager looks on

The Little Angel's puppet show If Not Here....Where? will be delivered to young hospital patients as an interactive app on a tablet - Credit: Benedict Johnson

Islington's Little Angel Theatre has beaten its fundraiser to bring a digital puppet show to children in long-term hospital care.

Two Little Angel puppeteers manipulate a puppet in a colourful box

If Not Here..Where? was designed to be performed live at a child's hospital bedside or in a waiting room and will now be shown via a tablet and an interactive app - Credit: Ellie Kurttz

The much-loved puppet theatre toured ‘If Not Here...Where?’ as a live  show to children’s wards and hospitals at the start of the year.

Now, the money raised through a week-long Big Give campaign means it can create a digital version to uplift young patients who cannot see it live because of coronavirus restrictions.

The theatre, based in Dagmar Passage, exceeded its £7,500 target raising £8,370 in just 2 days. The extra funds will allow it to bring the 20 minute show, created in collaboration with Great Ormond Street Hospitals (GOSH), to more wards across the UK.

A Little Angel puppeteer shows a child in a hospital bed a box theatre

If Not Here..Where? was designed to be performed at a child's hospital bed and is now going to be shown digitally on a tablet with an interactive app - Credit: Benedict Johnson

Designed to be performed at a bedside or in a waiting room, the choose-your-own magical adventure is inspired by stories from patients at GOSH.

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A stage manager will now deliver a tablet so that children can watch and engage via an interactive app.

Louisa Heads McCann, Marketing Administrator at Little Angel, said the pandemic would have a lasting impact on the theatre’s work: “Having a digital theatre production will be a great way of reaching children during lockdown restrictions, but will also give the piece some longevity as some children in hospital care are too vulnerable to have visitors even when there isn’t a pandemic.

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“We had planned to start doing more digital content pre-pandemic, but it was just one of those ideas that we had on the backburner. Then obviously being closed forced us to put it into action more quickly, and it’s been really positive.”

She added: “It’s possible that at some point next year hospitals might allow visitors, but we can’t guarantee that so we’re safer assuming it will be digital.”

Throughout the pandemic Little Angel has worked to keep families entertained, organising outdoor puppet shows and online storytelling and puppet-making workshops.

Louisa said the company has seen a growth in its Youtube subscribers with many parents sharing photos and videos of puppets their children have made on social media.

At the end of October, they briefly toured their first indoor live show Reach for the Stars, inspired by Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space. But, when the second lockdown was announced, they moved performances online.

Over Christmas they will hold Covid-safe live performances of ‘WOW! Said the Owl’ from December 12.

For further info or to make a donation: www.littleangeltheatre.com

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