Assembly Hall Theatre
Pantomime is one of the gifts of theatre as it’s often the first experience many of us had of live theatre. It can be the start of a life-long relationship to live entertainment – a magic that never leaves us. The immediacy, the intimacy, the drama, the fear, the celebration, it’s all jam packed into an adrenaline filled two hours.
Imagine our devastation earlier this year when we faced the reality of having to cancel this precious gift in our programme due to the global pandemic. We were heartbroken, and we saw that heartbreak in so many other theatres across the country. How can we have a festive season in the UK without panto?
This means there’s a whole set of people who’ll be unable to start that amazing relationship with theatre and live entertainment. Then there’s all the laugher, glee, joy, and smiles missing from our buildings – the magic lost! We were determined to find a way. And we did!
Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs didn’t have their say,
Fear not as Miss Corona Virus hasn’t won the day,
After all her efforts we’ve brought a panto back,
Albeit a little smaller, let’sall welcome Jack!
We’ve put together a panto replacement for all the family, socially distanced, fast paced and full of fun. It’ll be smaller than usual but perfectly formed and still packing a punch. There will be a Dame, there will be music, there will be laughter and we will follow our lead character through the trials and tribulations of a much-loved story! A gift returned.
This year we have also reduced the adult price to match the child price, so it makes it more affordable. And next year we’ll hopefully have the full razzle dazzle spectacle of a panto we are accustomed to!
In fact, the origin of our modern-day pantomime was much smaller than the spectacles we see today, the term ‘pantomime’ referred to masked players in one-man mime performances in Greece, way back in the time of the emperor Augustus. The next development occurred around the Italian Renaissance when Commedia dell‘arte redefined the description as a type of performance. In the fifteenth century we see the English ‘Harlequin’, a humorous knave, start to develop the template for our modern-day principal boy.
The modern spectacle has longstanding roots across the ages as the first recorded pantomime presented in England was in 1712, by John Rich at the Lincoln’s Inn Fields, it was called ‘The Magician’.