Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Having introduced the idea of community panto, be warned, I’m hoping you’ll end up wanting to do it. Don’t think of reasons why not. Just read on: 

Here, in Drimpton, we’ve been putting on pantomimes for 20 years. We’re not a drama group; we’re just local people who come together every two years or so and have a grand time – recruiting new pantomimers every time.  Why do we do it? We started out in 1993 because enough of us fancied having a go. We have come to see over the years that panto has the power not only to deliver fun but to also bring people together – children, teenagers and adults of all ages, long-established residents and newcomers, from all backgrounds and with a great range of experience.

Now let’s be clear at the outset: pantos need people; people who are willing to offer their skills, invest their energy, give their time, let down their hair and have fun. Pantos cannot be made without a cast of thousands (almost) onstage and off and in the audience, too. If your community has never staged a panto, why no give it a go? Believe me, if we can do it, so can you. And if you’re up for it, we are happy to help. But why should you want to?

Pantos offer a place where the following happens:
Ø      People of all ages come together in a common cause. Children learn to speak with adults outside their family and school environments. Adults learn that children are not aliens to be wary of. Breaking such barriers is priceless.
Ø      People expand their circle of friends. Nowadays many people live semi-isolated lives. They move in limited circles and can be untrusting of others. Eyes are opened.
Ø      People work creatively in a real-life social environment, not via some virtual social media tool.
Ø      People make something from nothing in a short time with only the community’s resources to call on. That is special.
Ø      People are encouraged to offer and share their existing skills and talents, which are valued and recognised.
Ø      People develop skills that can benefit the community in other ventures.
Ø      People become more confident and develop self-belief.
Ø      People leave their everyday worries at the door.
And as I’ve already said more than once:
Ø      People have FUN!

As you can see from this, the emphasis is on people – bringing people together – and it is
people who make communities, especially when they are having fun.

Monday, 2 February 2015


I’m Andrew Pastor, author of Panto: The Manual. 

Panto is one of those rare things – an entertainment that doesn’t need to be explained. It’s just FUN! Silly, anarchic, romantic FUN, where the Baddies always lose. And, in a community, panto offers a meeting place for people of all ages to come together in a common cause – putting on a show! We have been staging pantos here in Drimpton, West Dorset for 20 years. What do some locals say?

‘Panto brought all the villagers together. It gives all of us a chance to learn stuff... It’s like going on a fair ride for the first time – doing something daredevil.’
[Richard R, groundworker] 

‘The Pantomime is the perfect example of people working together for the good of all.  People of all ages get involved and feel a sense of belonging as they plan, support and partake. Then on the ‘night’, that wonderful feeling of camaraderie that embraces us all.  This sense of belonging leads to happier and healthier lives.’
[Mike S, Parish Councillor]

 ‘The best thing about them is the community spirit.  Adults knowing the kids’ names in the village.  The children knowing other adults.  It makes you feel safer.  And the way the older kids and adults look after the littler kids.  A really good opportunity for them. I love the effect it has on them. Their confidence grows.’
[Becky F, trainee midwife]

‘We would be a lesser village without panto.’
[Kate H, voluntary care worker]

‘Participation ensures a greater understanding and acceptance of each other so that there is a sense of communal sharing during both the good times and the bad times.’
[Neville A, Lay Minister]

‘We came together with a common goal.’
[James R, teenager]

‘ Pantomimes are the best therapy for any village!!’  
[Beryl B, Methodist Chapel]

‘The atmosphere! That elation when the panto was over, people were beaming, flowing over with fun.’
[Mark House, mechanic] 

‘The process of putting on a village panto has benefits for the Health and Wellbeing of the whole community and its members. The process of working with, and relying on, other people of varying ages is of great value for the mental wellbeing of all, and perhaps especially helps those who might be relatively isolated. It also encourages self-confidence and self-reliance in younger participants, and gives some of them an experience of collaborating with others that they will not get elsewhere, and which they may carry forward in their lives.’
[Dr John H, GP]

You can meet these people and many others in Panto: The Manual. They, along with hundreds of other locals, have come together to present panto in Drimpton over the years, and in so doing they have helped make our community happier and healthier.