Search

Flying the flag for the panto

PUBLISHED: 21:13 12 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:01 05 July 2010

THE panto season is just about to start in the Waveney area and the district council's arts and heritage services manager ANDREW KITCHEN puts the spotlight on the shows and how they bring a special brand of fun and pleasure to theatre goers.

THE panto season is just about to start in the Waveney area and the district council's arts and heritage services manager ANDREW KITCHEN puts the spotlight on the shows and how they bring a special brand of fun and pleasure to theatre goers.

“TIS the season to be jolly”, as the old seasonal song goes - especially as there might not be such a happy new year looming.

But jolliness abounds at this time of year - albeit some of it enforced - and the arts world is always keen to “lose the plot” in December, especially when theatres turn to pantomime.

Our version of panto is a uniquely British-made Christmas invention - one of few - steeped in heritage and tradition yet cunningly modernised and, hopefully, always as corny as crackers and daft as the proverbial brush.

Once, panto opened on Christmas Day and ran till Easter - such was the demand of audiences and indeed the stamina of the performers.

Now the season is more limited but it is tremendous that the great institution of a professional pantomime is again playing at the Marina Theatre, in Lowestoft, for the first time in decades - even offering performances on Boxing Day, traditionally the busiest day in British theatre.

Has anybody got stories or memories of past pro-pantos of yester-decade at any of Lowestoft's old theatres - it would be great to read them?

Professional panto is always seen as the theatre industry's banker - helping financially and thus allowing greater programming risks at other times - and I found it very strange that the tradition had been lost locally. May Peter Pan the pantomime fly high and audiences proudly build year on year from now on.

Likewise it's equally great to see that the terrific Fisher Theatre, in Bungay, again also offers a smaller scale panto across the Christmas period (Jack and the Beanstalk December 19 to January 4) and that the Lowestoft Players, plus numerous other community groups will provide pantos and seasonal shows from now till February (at least).

There's never any need for these to compete, let's just build a real winter-warming “silly season” - the more cross-dressing, slapstick, puny puns and corny comedians across the district the better in my book. And tell me a doctor that wouldn't prescribe a good laugh right now - especially at the launch of what threatens to be a grim year ahead?

Indeed listening to the dastardly doom-mongers, all 2009 might resound with boos and hisses, curses and exits as the economy somersaults and flounders and we all desperately try to keep a smile on our faces and stay in jobs, (sadly, unlike most actors).

All the more need now then for all our local arts and heritage projects to flourish - professional and community - and so ever improve our quality of life.

Locally, very often, these projects include businesses with real jobs and vital incomes; often they offer needed opportunities to volunteer and socialise; often providing learning and people development; and even (but of course only sometimes, funders) purely for pleasure. All life essentials these - not additional luxury extras.

So my 2009 arts and heritage year planner is packed with collective aspirations and intentions - much as a result of community consultations and conversations.

To fulfil such, I am hoping like-minded collaborators from across Waveney aplenty will want to join in, take over and even galvanise others to get involved and make ever more things happen. The days of any one organisation leading such activity are well done and dusted (if they ever really existed) - the tremendous East Anglian community tradition of making things happen, especially in arts and heritage spheres, is paramount now.

Like panto audiences, together we can chase some dark villains away and cheer on the good things in life - 2009 might not be laughter all the way but neither need it all be a tale of tears.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Lowestoft Journal

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists