Building Communities Through Seasonal Traditions

PUBLISHED: 16:13 21 January 2014 | UPDATED: 16:27 21 January 2014

Village pantomime

Village pantomime

Archant

Ettington village come together to stage a successful 3-night pantomime

So the curtain came down on the pantomime in our village at the weekend. Oh no it didn’t – oh yes it did, sadly.

A great group of 2 dozen enthusiastic residents in the village of Ettington came together after a hard core of them, musing over a pint in the local pub, decided that it would be a great idea to put on a pantomime. And it was. Not just because of the obvious entertainment value that good or bad pantomime brings to a wide demographic but because it was a brilliant example of a community working well together.

With very few exceptions, barely anyone had significant prior experience of amateur dramatics but you wouldn’t have been able to tell that readily. All were confident and committed, attending rehearsals for almost 4 months and increasingly for 8 hours a week then 16 in the final week. They wanted to put on the best performance they could possibly deliver to the village and having delivered this via 3 performances to over 500 people, many in the audience later commented on how surprisingly professional they had found it.

That didn’t mean that the slapstick humour, double entendre’s or usual formula of baddies, hissing and general audience participation was in any way lacking. On the contrary, with costumes supplied by a fancy dress shop in Stratford, everyone looked perfect and delivered exceptionally well, especially Wellesbourne Wonder the ambidextrous pantomime horse who was hilarious.

Our local vicar also threw herself into the spirit of things playing a villager, a group of whom regularly provided backing vocals and dancing to ‘I’m a believer’ (apt), ‘Let’s get this party started’, ‘Love is in the air’ etc etc.

For me though, it was the wonderful realisation of what this had meant to those who had taken part from within the community. They had spent several months learning their lines and moves but also forging close friendships which spanned a reasonable breadth of ages, occupations and interests. Many said how they had loved making strong new friendships in the village with people they had never before met. I suspect almost all will have shed a tear or two at the thought of no longer rehearsing with each other on a weekly basis.

While there were only 2 young teenagers in the pantomime, who conducted themselves brilliantly, there seemed to be no age boundary among the cast and everyone became one of the crowd, coaching and supporting each other and sharing in jokes, laughter and discovering shared interests. This harkened back to how communities used to be many years ago.

Everyone was talking about it on the Facebook page or around the village and ticket sales via the village shop had been brisk for all 3 performances. It was very plain to see, having gone to all 3 performances, that the village was determined to reflect back that effort and commitment from the cast in the appreciation they showed after the curtain fell each time. Looking across the audience there was a certain comfort to see the local postie, or one of the pub landlords, or the team from the village shop, sitting in the audience enjoying themselves and in some cases being referenced affectionately in the script.

A simple thing, albeit immensely hard work, that brought the best out in the community and had old and young teaching each other on the back of one of the most traditional cornerstones of British entertainment, was a welcome break from technology and incredibly heart-warming to witness.

Annette Gann

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