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Rapunzel at Theatre Royal Stratford East

Live-streaming a Christmas treat

Theatre Royal Stratford East live-streamed its Christmas show to hospices and hospitals, to allow patients and their families to enjoy a holiday treat they would otherwise have missed

The article below is based on the evaluation of the project from the Stratford East team.  

In December 2017, Theatre Royal Stratford East (TRSE) live-streamed its Christmas production of Rapunzel across Barts Health Trust, to the newly opened Rainbow Ward at Newham University Hospital, to Richard House Children’s Hospice in Beckton and to St Francis Adult Hospice in Romford. The Theatre Royal were awarded a commission by The Space to support the live stream, which was particularly aimed at audiences who would not be able to attend the Christmas production in person, and was part of the wider Stratford East to East initiative which uses digital platforms and media to reach audiences across East London and East Anglia.  

Joanne Sandi and Stephen Hoo in colourful costumes for RapunzelJoanne Sandi and Stephen Hoo in Rapunzel at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Photo: Scott Rylander

The show was broadcast via a weblink which meant that anyone with an internet connection and a phone, tablet or computer could watch the whole performance. This enabled patients on their wards to watch on iPads, and TRSE provided screens and projectors in central spaces for those who could watch in a group.

The Project Director and Associate Artist at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Marcus Romer, explains how the live stream worked: “We had a full screen and projector at the Richard House Hospice, and a large screen TV at Newham University Hospital and St Francis’ Hospice. In all cases, the staff provided seating and food for patients, their families and siblings, and created a festive atmosphere for the viewers of the live-stream.

“The technical team at the theatre transmitted the whole performance live using four ultra-high-definition cameras. This meant the picture and sound quality were absolutely crystal clear, and the technical support meant that it worked with no dropout or stalling. We had three camera technicians and a producer in the theatre, as well as the head of sound and the tech team for the theatre production ready during the stream. 

"We also had a support team from TRSE at each of the venues, who had programmes, and sweets and treats from the show. The TRSE team in each location were able to tweet and support the technical team back at the theatre. This was vital as were able to capture and share those experiences. 

“The effect was to create an engaging and absorbing experience in the care locations, and we also worked with the cast who gave a special mention to the remote viewers and their carers – which went down incredibly well.”

Juliet Okotie and Raj Bajaj, each holding a large net, in wild and colourful costumes for RapunzelJuliet Okotie and Raj Bajaj in Rapunzel at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Photo: Scott Rylander

Shahina Hauqe, Family Support Services Manager at St Francis Hospice, said it was a “fantastic opportunity to provide to our patients and their families, bringing theatre to those that may not have had the chance to attend. Watching the show bought laughs and laughter which was great to see, and one for the memories for the family to cherish. Thank you to all who made this possible. It was great to have something different during what can be a difficult time for our families.”

The hospices also provided food and costumes, and had turned their meeting rooms into themed grottos. This was for the families of the children, residents and carers to actively share together during this afternoon screening. 

Julie Yammanee as Rapunzel stands centre stage in a blue dress while 5 dark figures dance in the backgroundJulie Yammanee in Rapunzel at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Photo: Scott Rylander

Romer says: “The event was a great success – not only technically but also for the cast, company and the whole team. A really interesting effect was that the live audience in the auditorium responded very warmly, with cheers and applause, when they heard that the show they were watching was being streamed.

Live-streaming the show made a difference to people’s lives that day. The responses online and from the staff teams were overwhelming, and it was clear that this digital outreach initiative from TRSE was a valuable opportunity for audiences and communities in East London.”

Marcus Romer is the Creative Director of Arts Beacon and an Associate Artist at Theatre Royal Stratford East. 

Interested in live streaming? Find out how Artichoke achieved an audience reach of millions through live streaming London 1666Learn how to take a hit theatrical show and stream it to new audiences or Read our basic ‘how to’ guide - coming soon!