Bury St Edmunds Lays a (Recessionary) Golden EggDate: 29 October 2010
Last year the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds did something slightly unusual, even by its own standards. It ran a free one-evening workshop for directors, actors and producers on staging a pantomime. It turned out to be a great success with much positive feedback received from those who attended.
It’s being repeated this year, on Thursday 9 December ,and will again be led by the Theatre Royal’s artistic director Colin Blumenau with associate director Abigail Anderson, who’s directing this year’s production of Mother Goose. Money is always in short supply for the arts, and drama of all kinds is likely to be particularly hard-hit by ACE and other funding cuts over the next few years. Yet the annual pantomime is one of a few guaranteed big earners for any regional theatre.
“Pantomimes have been around since the 16th century and are woven into the rich theatrical history of the UK. These days, you’re more likely to find professional pantos as vehicles for soap and pop stars or comedians, but the basic principle remains the same. You need a great Dame and loads of silly jokes,” explains Blumenau.
“At the Theatre Royal, we prefer to take a traditional approach and it is that aspect of the pantomime phenomenon which we believe audiences still want to see. It’s with this in mind that we run these workshops – hoping at the same time that, by sharing our professional skills, we will do our part to keep the art of the traditional pantomime alive around the county of Suffolk.
The memory of the 2009 event still lingers. “I was amazed to find at last year’s workshop just how much we learned from each other. I’ve been involved with pantomimes for nearly a decade yet I’m still learning from other practitioners,” he added. Spaces for the workshop to be held in the Bury St Edmunds Guildhall are likely to go fast, particularly as there’s no charge, so early booking is recommended. Further details are available through the theatre’s box office and website.
Mother Goose runs between 3 December and 16 January. During December, primary schools in the area which have booked seats for the pantomime can take part on their own premises in workshops specially designed to introduce children to its conventions and trade secrets – and to try these out for themselves. There is a charge for these workshops. Full details from the theatre's creative learning department which co-ordinates work with young people and schools.
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