Fiona Buffini, 20 January 2016

Who led the session?

Fiona Buffini.

Who attended the session?

Mark Price, Sally Hunt, Jennie Gentles, Graham Allum, Paul Mooney, Tom Spencer,

Claire Woolard, Monica Herbert, Fiona Buffini.

Summary of session:

The question was stimulated by many of the other questions that were being asked

about theatre for young audiences, theatre for intergenerational audiences, extra live

theatre, theatre for diverse audiences and the financial difficulties we all face. It struck

me that this form of theatre has a really wide appeal and does really well at the box

office BUT we (people at D&D) never talk about panto. Why is this?

What is panto?

• Most of the audience already know the characters and story

• People know what they’re getting

• Family orientated

• Interactive, audience feels included not ignored

• Fun, a good night out

• Children see adults being silly

• Two levels of comedy

• Ritual

• Communal experience

We don’t forget about panto, we ignore it. SNOBISHNESS. “It’s too panto” is a

derogatory acting note.

Actors who do panto don’t come to D & D.

Middle-class take-over of the arts. Death of manufacturing and whole working-class

culture that went with it. Variety, club circuit, working men’s clubs, pub closures.

Factories used to give tickets. Community. Working class like interaction with actors.

Now it’s really expensive to get into the arts – it’s usually through study now.

Why do some audiences only come to panto? It’s not the work that inaccessible, it’s

the buildings.

Why aren’t WE interested in it? It’s not new and innovative. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


Will panto survive? Yes. It doesn’t need funding. It’s recruiting new generations of

audiences. It doesn’t feel it needs to re-invent, although it does move with the times.

Gay pantos do well. Local pantos for local areas do well.

Is panto less accessible because you have to know the rules?

Panto deals in stereotypes? We have to move away from stereotypes.