I’ve been lucky to work professionally in pantomimes, but my love for the art from started, as many people’s is did, with one of my first visits to the theatre. The Exeter Northcott Theatre has a long history of producing top-class regional Panto introduced by John Durnin continued by Ben Crocker and then re-introduced by Paul Jepson in 2017 and reinvigorated by Daniel Buckroyd in 2019 following his appointment as artistic director the previous year. It was here at this venue I can remember many years of happily attending the panto with family, friends and audiences from across the county. For some this annual outing would be the first or only trip to the theatre that year.
My first pantomimes
My first panto dates back further than this to a local amateur theatre group in a market town in rural Devon. A friend of my parents was performing in Aladdin so we went along to support. Nearly seven years later I joined the group to take part in my first pantomime on stage. Later having the opportunity to take on roles such as Director, Pantomime Dame, Writer, Set Designer, and Stage Manager often all at once!
I am lucky that today I work professionally as a writer, director and Pantomime performer. It’s a little different to the amateur theatre groups up and down the county that produce pantomimes year-on-year. But all the key ingredients are there; all the expected traditions “he’s behind you “and “oh yes he is“ and the audience is still packed with children making an annual pilgrimage to the theatre. Pantomime is a gateway to a lifelong love affair we must protect.
So why do I love Pantomime so much? There is the obvious intergenerational appeal but it’s more than that. Pantomime, or at least a half decent one, can be filled with more unadulterated joy, creativity, and imagination than other forms of theatre scarcely manage. Laughter and love, the defeat of evil in the face of adversity, and the quest for bravery, adventure, and lifelong happiness is something the world can always do with more of.