It’s curtains up on panto time in East Sussex! Oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is! And once again families across the county will be spoilt for choice if they’re in search of villains to boo, heroes to cheer, jokes to groan at and songs to sing a-long with.
Dick Whittington will be especially busy in East Sussex this year as he turns again to Uckfield, Seaford, Polegate and Lewes hoping the streets will be paved with gold. Meanwhile Sleeping Beauty will be dozing for 100 years in Peacehaven and Battle, while Eastbourne will host Jack and his Beanstalk. Aladdin and his magic lamp will take up residence in Hastings while Peter Pan will take the second star on the right and will be going straight on until Eastbourne.
Enter stage left
The stories might be different but at all the shows the audiences are likely to enjoy slapstick, double-entendre, dames in extravagant costumes cracking risqué non-PC jokes, a villain who enters from stage left, dancing, and tales of love and triumph. And, of course, no panto will be complete without audience participation with “it’s behind you” surely included in all scripts at some stage.
Panto is as part of Christmas in the UK as Brussel sprouts, Christmas Pudding, the Queen’s Speech, and over-indulgence.
There are some who insist the timing of the British pantomime at Christmas and the role reversal of the lead characters (the principal boy being played by a woman and the dame by a man) may have its origins in the Tudor “Feast of Fools”, an unruly event, involving much drinking, revelry and role reversal.
But other historians disagree and claim that while pantomime is often seen as something utterly British, it actually developed from Italian street theatre in the 16th Century. Small theatrical companies toured in Italy and France, setting up in market places and fairgrounds to tell stories of the old man Pantalone and the clown Pierrot.
But whatever the truth, the fact remains that pantos in town theatres, village halls, schools and other venues across East Sussex – many of them performed by local theatre groups – promise to give us a fun treat this Christmas…”oh yes they do!”
Some of this year’s East Sussex pantos:
Jack & The Beanstalk – Eastbourne
Devonshire Park Theatre
6th Dec 2019 to 12th Jan 2019
Peter Pan – Eastbourne
Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Seaside
21st Dec 2019 to 1st Jan 2020
Aladdin – Hastings
White Rock Theatre, White Rock, Hastings
13th – 29th Dec 2019
A Christmas Carol – Crowborough
Crowborough Community Centre, Pine Grove, Crowborough
13th – 15th Dec 2019
Sleeping Beauty – Peacehaven
The Meridian Centre, Meridian Way, Peacehaven
30th Nov 2019 to 7th Dec 2019
Sleeping Beauty – Battle
Battle Memorial Hall, High Street, Battle
21st and 22nd Dec 2019
Dick Whittington – Uckfield
Uckfield Civic Centre
13th and 14th Dec 2019
Dick Whittington – Polegate
Polegate Community Centre
18th to 26th Jan 2020
Dick Whittington – Seaford
Seaford, Barn Theatre
17th to 19th Jan 2020, 24th to 26th Jan 2020
Dick Whittington – Lewes
St. Mary’s Social Centre, Christie Road
11th to 18th Jan 2020