The Manchester children’s show which is taking social distancing to intergalactic lengths

It is hoped that thinking outside the box will encourage families to safely see a Z-arts show over the festive period.

A Manchester children’s show has come up with a social distancing solution that is almost out of this world!

Audiences at The Gift, an early-years puppetry show being run at Z-arts in Hulme, has family groups seated on separate ‘planets’ dotted around the auditorium.

It is hoped the unusual layout will give people nervous about the transmissibility of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 the confidence they need to bring youngsters along to see the show.

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    What is Z-arts doing about social distancing at The Gift?

    Z-arts has come up with a clever twist on the traditional layout of a theatre and is seating audiences for The Gift on their own separate ‘planets’ set out across the auditorium.

    The venue has come up with the intergalactic solution as the show is set in outer space.

    A Mercury planet seats two or three people whereas gas giant Jupiter will accommodate four to six space travellers.

    Families attending The Gift in Hulme are sitting on separate ‘planets’ for social distancing. Photo: Ray Jefferson

    Z-arts hopes that families who might be uncomfortable sitting in rows in traditional theatre seating will feel reassured that they are safe on their own distant celestial sphere.

    The show was created during the first lockdown and opened on 16 December, having originally been intended to run during the 2020 festive season.

    However, it had to be postponed last year as Manchester spent Christmas in Tier 3.

    It was created to be fully Covid-secure, with the audience invited to bring their favourite cushions and pillows from home to make their specially-made planet mats that bit more comfortable.

    It runs until 31 December and tickets can be booked on Z-arts’ website.

    What have those involved with the production said?

    Beccy Smith, director at Touched Theatre, said: “The Gift was created especially for young audiences aged two to four years old, and was inspired by children’s experiences of lockdown and separation from friends and extended family.

    “It is a visual treat for families that follows a grumpy astronaut called Nolli as he discovers that Christmas can find you anywhere, even in space.

    The Gift in Manchester has taken an unusual approach to social distancing, seating audiences on separate ‘planets’. Photo: Ray Jefferson

    “The production uses high-quality puppetry and gorgeous visual theatre and animation to bring to life an original story of the magic of gift-giving, connection and friendship in space.”

    Zoe Pickering, head of programming, Z-arts, said: “This is a very special show for the very youngest of audiences.

    “It is lovely out in space, so pull up a planet of your own and enjoy the show.”