Bubble Nativities Are Go!
We are all learning to adapt: how we work, how we socialise, how we shop and how we travel. The challenges of the last six months, whether physical, emotional, financial or logistical, have been immense, asking questions of each of us and necessitating change in our behaviour and outlook. Some of these are likely to be permanent; some, hopefully, temporary. The ‘new normal’ may not be exactly as we would choose, but it has nevertheless allowed us to reintroduce into our lives those elements which we feel are fundamental and of untold importance.
Within primary schools, the nativity must be one such element. It is at once the backbone and the heart of the school year, so embedded within the cultural calendar and so intrinsic to the structure of the autumn term, that schools must and will do everything to ensure it takes place.
But it will need to adapt.
It will probably have to go ahead without a live audience. It may need to be performed with smaller casts or particular bubbles of children. It may need to take place outside, and it might – as disappointing as this may sound – need to be undertaken without the usual heart-warming singing.
It won’t be the same and it may not be easy, but when has that ever stopped teachers and headteachers from doing anything? They, of all people in all professions, cope with whatever is thrown at them on a daily basis, rising to the occasion for the benefit of their pupils. The nativity will be no different, but it will certainly need some planning.
Two of our new nativities this term, A VERY SPECIAL BABY and AN ANGEL, A STAR AND A STABLE, have been deliberately conceived and written with each of these factors in mind, each comprising just four songs and a short editable script for small casts of 15 and 30 respectively. Our other new, full-length nativity, HONKY TONKY DONKEY by Niki Davies, comes with a complimentary bubble version of the script for 15, as does her much-loved HIGGLEDY PIGGLEDY NATIVITY. We have also created a bubble version of the entertaining HAY PRESTO for a cast 30.
In addition, across our entire catalogue we are making the editable scripts available and will also permit all of our nativities to be undertaken with or without singing. If the songs cannot be sung, you may still wish to include the sung track from the CD/playlist within the performance. Or if you like the lyrics of the songs enough, you could include them as poems!
Filming Your Nativity
We all know how much parents and grandparents adore attending the school nativity, trying to catch a glimpse of their child somewhere on a busy stage, quite possibly wearing a tea-towel on their head. Watching a DVD or footage online after the event clearly won’t be the same, but it will be something. And most importantly, it will still allow the children to be part of it: for many of them, it will be their first time on stage and their first taste of performance, an experience which should not be missed.
If you wish to film your production, then a single static camera will be the simplest option, positioned from the viewpoint of the audience. Alternatively, you might consider bringing in a professional to undertake the filming with two or more cameras, allowing for post-production editing.
If you do decide to film your production but do not have the resources to create DVDs, one option would be to upload it to a platform such as a private channel on YouTube, with access available only by invitation.
If you wish to broadcast the production live, then a single static camera would certainly be the simplest option, positioned from the viewpoint of the audience. A strong Wi-Fi signal and decent band width will be required. There are a number of platforms over which you could broadcast:
ZOOM webinar is a very good option and likely to be the most familiar to your audience, especially any parents who have undertaken remote working. The paid account, rather than the free option, will be required, though this can be purchased as a one-off cost if necessary. Zoom also allows you the option to record the broadcast and save it on the cloud. The link can then be shared as necessary, or the broadcast itself can be downloaded before being made available.
Other options, some of which you may have already made use of for remote teaching and learning, include Microsoft TEAMS and Google Classroom, or you might consider Facebook Live or Instagram Live. Each is relatively user-friendly and all provide online guidance and tutorials about how to use their service. Whichever option you use, you will of course need to have organised and communicated the relevant access and log-in information in advance.
One other consideration is the value of practising a live broadcast during the dress rehearsal or before, including having one or more people (the more the better) watching from a remote location.
Outside The Box
For those looking to avoid any technical requirements, you might even think about performing your nativity/nativities outside, especially if we get some crisp winter weather. A small temporary stage, simple sound system and a well-spread audience could well be the answer. A shorter nativity such as A VERY SPECIAL BABY or AN ANGEL, A STAR AND A STABLE would be particularly suited to this approach.
Over the course of the last six months, schools across the country have demonstrated how resourceful, flexible and creative they can be, embodying the very characteristics that we all want to see in our pupils and children. Where a way can be found, schools will find it. The children deserve it. The teachers deserve it. And against all the odds, the nativities of 2020 will, perhaps more than ever, be truly memorable and uplifting occasions.