It is full steam ahead as we prepare for rehearsals to begin this week for my opera project: “Down the Rabbit Hole”. I’m very excited and I can’t wait to get my team all in one room and bring the project to life.
Today I spent the afternoon with my brother Matt as I needed help to make one of the props for the project, a tray of Jam Tarts. As these Jam Tarts are not for eating and will need to be used in each performance Matt suggested we use salt dough. I was glad of his help as he is a keen baker and I knew he would help me to solve the problem. Here are a few pictures of our time this afternoon in Matt’s kitchen. George took the photos.
As we are nearing the first performance of ‘Down The Rabbit Hole’ I have written a PR piece to help promote my new opera. I hope it will bring awareness of what I hope to achieve. The idea is to bring the project to the attention of those that may be able to help me take the performance on tour and reach a much larger audience. I would really appreciate your input and advice on the content and format of the piece, and if you have any ideas or suggestions on how I could improve it please let me know. If you have any questions that you think I haven’t answered and need to cover in the piece then again please let me know.
Charlotte Hoather is a freelance opera singer and actress. She is bringing her storybook opera production ‘Down The Rabbit Hole’ to all of the primary schools in Winsford, Cheshire and to three deaf specialist schools in London, with support from Arts Council England (ACE) who have a commitment to ensuring that villages, towns and cities across this country thrive through a collaborative approach to culture, including working class areas and diverse communities. They and Charlotte believe that culture has a deep and lasting effect on places and the people who live in them, and that working in partnership within places strengthens cultural and creative opportunity and wants this project to prepare the ground to spread opera and classical music to level up access and increase interest from a minority to all.
ACE has a ‘place-based approach’, to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for our communities. As the national development agency for creativity and culture, they aim to work differently in different geographic areas in order to realise the ambitions of Let’s Create. Opera is not out of reach or elite, families can buy tickets at the English National Opera (ENO) with free tickets for children often at lower cost than Musical Theatre productions. People in Winsford can see shows at low cost by graduate students at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and many other festival companies such as Northern Opera and Opera North in Leeds and a multitude of touring opera productions at very reasonable ticket prices.
‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ is just one of hundreds of projects ACE have supported this year through their national lottery project grants to support places to make a step-change in cultural provision in their local area. ACE says “Cultural organisations will only ever be as strong as the individual talent and skills on which they draw. In this country, our cultural sector has historically been dependent on a freelance workforce to provide it with its talent and vitality and help it create and run its programmes.” Charlotte is thrilled to have been accepted by this programme as the pandemic significantly affected her work just one year after graduating, just as she was emerging following six-years of degree level training in British conservatoires [the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the Royal College of Music]. She is tasked with creating a more equitable and sustainable ecology for all parts of the cultural sector.
Her first award was during lockdown when she received a ‘Developing Your Creative Practice Grant’ to improve the quality of her work and give her the skills to produce, write and create a touring production. This is how ‘Down The Rabbit Hole’ was brought to life; you can read more on Charlotte’s blog. Search for ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’. She aims to provide a high-quality cultural experience, raise deaf awareness and inclusion as she was born profoundly deaf in one ear, and has a collaborative deaf actress fully immersed in the show, Charlotte aims to show just how much they are able to do.
She had a desire to bring opera to her home town of Winsford and to specialist deaf schools in London. She is ambitious and wants to fulfil her creative ambitions and work with teachers and schools to highlight the important of creativity in education, and support a rich curriculum that includes art, design, dance, drama and music. The RCM specialist educationalists spent time with Charlotte to ensure there would the correct educational outcomes, and that material produced by Charlotte for the show supports the schools and the children.
Charlotte would love to tour this production all across the UK and even internationally, perhaps even co-produce moving forward if she can get the investment she will need to do that especially to areas that historically have been less engaged.
49 thoughts on “Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice – The Countdown Begins”
Best wishes for your next project, Charlotte! Are you baking a pie? ❤️🇬🇧😊
Jam tarts, sadly that you can’t eat. We said when we finished we should have done some eatable ones because they looked so good 😜.
Best wishes John,
Best wishes on the project, Charlotte
Thank you John,
Rolling in the dough, and having a tart. Everyone’s dream. I think you are going to put on a fabulous show.
Hehe, thank you Timothy. I want to put on a fabulous show, I want the children to remember it and enjoy it and talk about it.
You will. The children will love it, talk about it and be more appreciative of opera and music in general from it.
Wishing you all the best, Charlotte! xoxo
ps it’ll take some convincing for the crew not to eat them! 😉
Hehe, I might have to buy some real ones for the lunch break. Thank you for your good wishes Marina I appreciate it.
Your publicity piece seems to cover everything I would ask. The salt dough was a great idea! What fun you are having.
Thank you Annette, I’m in the last few days rush right now. Really looking forward to rehearsals starting on Thursday.
Best wishes always,
The PR segment looks quite reasonable, Charlotte. I wish you success attaining your goals with this project.
I had not heard of salt dough before. What a great idea for props that need reusing!
I’ve got to clear varnish them so they last the production run. We made Christmas tree decorations with salt dough when we were little so that gave us the idea. Thank you for your good luck message Lavinia I appreciate it.
Wishing you good luck and all the best,Charlotte!
Thank you very much for your good luck message.
I have no idea what is supposed to be in a PR piece or how they are written, but I do like what I read.
Good luck with this project!
Thank you Trent, I have no idea either 😬. Ray below has helped to give me some tips, shortening it, concentrating on what I want to achieve from an article. I’m glad you enjoyed it though.
All my best,
I do thi a lot because we search for sponsors for various projects. For the Christmas album we were able to get Pepsi, Amazon and big box chain called Target.
Who are you writing this for? That really does matter. Know your audience. How is it delivered?
That said, I think it’s too long and a little too technical. Save that for a proposal if you find some interest. Normally, this kind of PR is about three short paragraphs on one sheet.
Thanks Ray that is very useful. We don’t need to sell tickets because they are school events. It is to raise awareness about creating a new opera production, looking for future opportunities to tour the project to alternative venues and festivals, to get positive awareness for the key sponsor as without the arts council national lottery funding it would never have been developed to the stage it is at now, at most I could have done 3 schools with the private funding I have achieved.
There are a lot of people that don’t agree with funding for the arts and I would like to get some positive press for a project like this. There are more schools that would love to take it but schools do not have any spare funds at all, especially those in the regions. But you are right I need to really focus a piece for each type of audience.
Thank you again, I appreciate it.
Congratulations my friend and a great congratulations to Matt for his idea.
I’m not promising anything, but I’ll try to see if it would be possible to tour France with your show.
Best thoughts for you, see you soon!!!!
Merci beaucoup, mon ami, j’aimerais faire une tournée de la production en France.
Justement, je réfléchis pour faire une tournée en Provence. Pour cela je vais essayé de venir faire des image sur ta tournée pour pouvoir montrer ton travail.
A delightful photo story
I’d say ‘break a leg’, but you don’t need luck – everything you touch turns to gold! Good to see Matt getting his hands in on your project too!
You are my favourite cheerleader, thank you GP.
Matt also taught my Mum and me how to use procreate to colour in our illustrations for the booklet instead of doing it all by hand after they’d been sketched, that sped things up immensely. My little brother Tom is the writer in the family and he proof read the booklet for me, friends pulled through and easyfundraising who are helping me to afford the extra booklets as the number of children watching the show went up from my initial projections and the number of pages grew, and my parents have been none stop for a couple of months now. As has George, keeping me calm when my narrator had to pull out of the project, and practicing our songs daily since they were composed last month.
Thursday is Day 1 of production rehearsals.
Art and humanities. Bringing opera to deaf children…beautiful, Does each school supply their own speech signer or do you have one hat travels with you?
My actress Zoe, playing Margaret (Alice’s sister), the White Rabbit, the doors, bottle and cake, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat and The Queen of Hearts, is profoundly deaf and communicates by signing and using visual vernacular throughout the show in a fully integrated role. I will also be signing whilst singing where possible, and we have an actress interpreter who will speak and sign the narration in a story format.
Zoe and I made a video to teach the children in advance of the performance the song/poem The Queen of Hearts made some tarts, and will be immersed into the show in the courtroom scene all being well. I’ve been thinking about this and how to do it for a long time. Keep your fingers crossed for us. The set is a day away from being finished, just attaching the spears (they’re blunt) to the playing cards. I think you’d be impressed with what we’ve achieved with not a lot of money. I’ve had a good friend Hilary stitching the scenery changes together, Gill making hedgehog pompoms, my parents building the set and finding ways to reuse all manner of objects and now we just need to move it from venue to venue without damaging anything! Taking my hot glue gun, a sewing needle and thread and some nano tape just in case.
The more you tell me about this this labor of love, the more I fall in love with it and your family and friends.
The people around me are getting excited for Thursday, its all new experiences, I completely underestimated how much work goes on behind the scenes. I mean I’ve always appreciated production, staging, costumes etc. I shared a flat at University with a Stage Carpenter on a Stage Design and Management course and boy he worked long hours as show days neared.
Don’t feel out of place by not knowing how much work has to be done behind he scene. .It”s not known by most people.
Bravo, Charlotte! I’d never heard of salt dough…
Thank you Noelle, its great fun to make with grandchildren, you can make Christmas tree decorations and figures.
Truly fabulous Charlotte! 🤗👏👏👏😘🥰
Mum said you dropped off the hedgehogs today, thanks so much Gill. 👏😘🥰 to you xx
Best wishes always
I do have some thoughts!
It’s dinner, so I’ll go do that then come back and read again.
The first paragraph should be short and pack a punch about YOU! You are already somebody, and YOU are presenting Down The Rabbit Hole. .
You are way too, humble, madame Producer!!
Then get into the Ace stuff, which needs to be edited.
Thanks so much Resa.
Thanks for sharing these tarts . So yummy. Let’s follow our blogs. Anita
Done, thanks for making contact Anita.
Okay… my big deal thought, for what it’s worth.
You start out with 3 big blocks of text. Then 2 medium and a short wrap up.
Right away it’s somewhat ..not exciting to read a big block.
I would make the first paragraph, starting with your name, as you did. However, I’d keep it all about you in 2 longish sentences, or perhaps 3 shorter ones. What about your other awards from competitions?
Charlotte Hoather, Soprano, actress, winner of XXXXXX, placing in international competitions XXXXXX, trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the Royal College of Music. After appearing in x number of opera productions presents: “Down The Rabbit Hole”
With support from (ACE) Arts Council England, “Down The Rabbit Hole” …. (talk about the main aim of the production where it’s going, that you wrote it etc. Keep it exciting, don’t over explain. Make this a longer paragraph than the first one, but not thick. 4/5 sentences.
People should be excited here, lathered up and want to hear/learn more! So, in paragraphs 3, 4 & 5 you can explain further, as much as you need to.
Keep thoughts organized.
Make paragraph 3 all about “Down the Rabbit Hole”. The way it came about, etc.
Make paragraph 4 all about Ace. & how your production fits in with their thing etc.
The “She had a desire ” paragraph is fab. Perhaps an editor would suggest staring with Charlotte had, and still has a desire….
The last short paragraph is great!
I hope this helps a bit.
Obviously you are doing something right, or you wouldn’t be here writing this PR!
I’m quite proud of you!
So, now I’m going to make a hot chocolate and work on the bodice.
I’m attaching the lining across the top. I’ve got a 3/8 inch flat piping effect happening with the lining.
This way sequins won’t be cutting into your skin. Sequins can be cruel that way.
I bought some of the beads today. I bought all they had at that 1 store. More stores await!
You spent so much time on this, thank you so much, plenty to think about here.
What colour beads do you need, I had some at home somewhere from when I did textile design at school. I can ask my parents to try to find them and post them to you.
Yes I know about sequins I used to wear a lot of sequin dresses, in fact I have some in my parents loft, do you want me to send them to you?
Best wishes always,
Thank you, Charlotte!
I’m okay with the beads for now, but if I need some I will let you know!
Lol, I don’t know if anything I said helps, but I figure you are worth the time. 🤔🤩
Be well, have fun, talk soon and don’t eat the tarts!
“…Arts Council England (ACE)⦁ ACE have a commitment to ensure that villages, towns and cities, including working class areas and diverse communities across this country, thrive through a collaborative approach to culture. We believe that culture has a deep and lasting effect on places and the people who live in them, and that working in partnership within places strengthens cultural and creative opportunity⦁ We want this project to spread opera and classical music, to level up access and increase interest from a minority to all.”
Excellent PR piece. I see you have lots of good suggestions for edits!
I might say the paragraph that is third from the last that begins with “Her first award…” packs a powerful punch so I might figure a way to put that in the lead.
That’s my two cents. Feel free to ignore!
Best wishes for your important project!
Thanks for your suggestion and best wishes Sheila, I’m reworking it. I wouldn’t ignore you :).
All my best,
P.S. Your brother is too adorable, but please stay away from the cookies!
I agree Sheila I can’t afford new clothes hehe.
Rehearsals this week? Good. Must be so exciting… 👏🏻
The more you tell me about this this labor of love, the more I fall in love with it and your family and friends.