Day 7 in the Big Harrogate Theatre

by Tim Stedman

Moving through Act 2 today.  The second half of panto often contains more of the drama both in story and design.  But vast changes in sets between scenes invariably mean front cloth scenes to hide the stage management and crews ferocious battle with getting the set changed and dressed before that front cloth flies out.

So today’s challenge was the front cloth scene.  A narrow strip of stage available and 7 actors crammed on it.  Chorus line acting can be very dull to the audience, because with little space nobody can move and the directors problem is a washing line of static thesps.

Panto is, however, one of the few styles where this apparent challenge can be a joy.  Synchronised hands, mass shuffles across the stage, even breaking the fourth wall convention and asking fellow actors for room to deliver that killer line to the face of the actor at the other end.  As a director from my past once said “…don’t apologise for a deficiency, relish its use.”

Today we played and failed and played.

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