Welcome to the website of our two research projects, the first fully funded academic studies of amateur theatre in the UK.

It's nearly pantomime season...

Added on by Helen Nicholson.

posted by: Nadine Holdsworth

Well, there can’t be many research projects that involve conversations about where to get a large cup-size bra - for a pantomime dame, of course! Yes, I spent last week visiting pantomime rehearsals being conducted by the Royal Navy Theatre Association theatre companies: The Admirals’ Players and RSC Collingwood. RSC Collingwood, based at HMS Collingwood in Fareham are doing 'Dick Whittington' written and directed by Sarah Miatt. Whilst I was there the 25-strong company were being drilled by choreographer Andrew Wright; falling about laughing at the outrageous exploits of Robin Sheppard as Sarah Stewpot offering to show his 'hot and sticky muffins' and trying to get into the spirit by singing rousing Christmas numbers in October! Behind the scenes another team were working their magic making a giant sea creature for the notorious Collingwood UV scene, decorating a huge tiered cake and fashioning 18 rat noses....  

Props created by the production team for RSC Collingwood

Props created by the production team for RSC Collingwood

Props created by the production team for RSC Collingwood

Props created by the production team for RSC Collingwood

Over at HMS Excellent on Whale Island, Portsmouth, the Admirals' Players are producing a cowboy-style pantomime: 'Little Panto on the Prairie' written and directed by Joe Allan. As the company rehearsed in Fisher Hall, a small theatre space surrounded by pictures of all Whale Island Admirals from 1869 to the present day, I was reminded of the incongruity of serving navy personnel taking time out to rehearse a pantomime. In fact, the baddie played by marine, Marc McKinley, has thirty of his mates from the marines watching the show on the first night (I'll be there and I can't wait!). 

Cowboy costumes hanging up in Fisher Hall

Cowboy costumes hanging up in Fisher Hall

Rehearsing songs for 'Little Panto on the Prairie'

Rehearsing songs for 'Little Panto on the Prairie'

I was so impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm I witnessed as I watched these two companies rehearse and their absolute commitment to putting on 'a good show'. It was so lovely to see an inter-generational group hanging out together being creative and having fun. I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of family groups: mothers and sons; fathers and daughters and the producer for RSC Collingwood, Chris Blatch-Gainey, topped this by having partner Jane in the cast and his son Ben and mother Ida working as part of the production team.

Rehearsing 'Little Panto on the Prairie' at Fisher Hall

Rehearsing 'Little Panto on the Prairie' at Fisher Hall

I can't wait to see the final results in December - good luck everyone!