News from the South Holland Centre
If you are planning a visit to Cinderella at the South Holland Centre over the next couple of weeks, you will be taking part in a very British festive tradition with a long theatrical history.
English Pantomime is thought to have developed from the 16th century Italian ‘commedia del arte’ style of theatre, and is also thought to incorporate elements of the old English “Mummers Plays” and Music Hall.
In the early 1800s, the clown became the most important character in performances which were already being dubbed “Pantomime entertainment” in England.
This clown role started making “acute observation upon the foibles and absurdities of society… holding them up to ridicule” – a tradition that we still enjoy in traditional panto today.
By the 19th century, children were being taken to the theatre around the Christmas and New Year holiday to witness the craziness of Pantomime’s “chase scenes, spectacular scenic magic, as well as slapstick comedy, dancing and acrobatics.”
And the latest version of that “spectacular scenic magic” can be seen with a wonderful wow-factor effect in Spalding’s Cinderella this year.
To this day British pantomime continues as a hugely popular form of theatre, with many specific conventions such as the cross-dressing Dame (we have two gorgeous Ugly Sisters this year), the soppy fairy-tale love story, clowning, slapstick, colourful song and dance numbers, topical references and, of course, lots of audience participation!
There is nothing quite like sitting in a packed house of all ages, from toddlers to grannies, shouting their hearts out at Buttons, booing the baddies and singing along with the songs.
A distinctly British entertainment without which the festive season would just not be the same.
Cinderella is on now at the South Holland Centre, Spalding and runs until Saturday, January 3.