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Pantomime and community spirit: a "Cinderella story" McConney, Annemarie 1997

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P A N T O M I M E A N D C O M M U N I T Y SPIRIT: A " C I N D E R E L L A " S T O R Y by ANNEMARJJE M C C O N N E Y B . E d . , M c G i l l University,  1987  A THESIS S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR T H E D E G R E E OF M A S T E R OF ARTS in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Department of  We  Language  Education)  accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard:  T H E UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A April (c)  1997  AnneMarie McConney,  1997  in  presenting this  degree at the  thesis  in  University of  partial  fulfilment  of  of  department  this thesis for or  by  his  or  requirements  British Columbia, I agree that the  freely available for reference and study. I further copying  the  representatives.  an advanced  Library shall make  it  agree that permission for extensive  scholarly purposes may be granted her  for  It  is  by the  understood  that  head of copying  my or  publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  Department  of  £-ftto<S-U r\cVr=  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  DE-6 (2/88)  f=  r\ucpy-\\ofC>  11  ABSTRACT  For the past 26 years, i n one way or another, I have been connected to a unique private school located on the small island of Barbados.  M y connection to the school may be dated much earlier i f  one considers that my grandmother was one of the first students to attend the school and later became an active member of the committee of management.  Every so often life at this school  becomes a little more exciting, as attention is focused on the next St. Winifred's School Pantomime. Pantomimes were introduced to the school i n 1969 and were produced bi-annually until 1977. were reintroduced i n 1989 since.  After a break of 12 years, they  and have continued to flourish  ever  A s successful as each St. Winifred's pantomime proves to be,  its future is hardly secure and every year the question arises, "Should we do another pantomime?"  This study is an effort to  answer that question and i n answering it, provide justification for us and other schools to embark on similar theatre projects. Throughout the process of producing the "Cinderella",  1996 pantomime  I recorded the journey of myself, cast and crew  members i n an attempt to understand, why we do this.  Research  was necessary to narrate the history of the past pantomimes at the school. Newspaper articles and letters from members of the and cast help to document the impact of these shows.  audience  Interviews  were also held with the cast and crew of "Cinderella" about four weeks after the show had closed.  It was an unforgettable journey through the year.  One  made  more special by the heightened awareness of the significance of the St. Winifred's pantomimes. rewards,  the major  Apart from the obvious financial  community benefits  included positive p u b l i c  relations for the school, confidence and poise among cast  members  and the development  of pride and responsibility among parents and  friends of the school.  There is little doubt left i n my mind that the  pantomimes  "give and keep giving," and theatre i n the school has a  remarkable effect on the school and its wider community.  COMMUNITY WORK IS LIKE THERAPY. WE MUST STRIVE TO EMPOWER PEOPLE. PROMOTING INVOLVEMENT IN ANY ACTIVITY IS NOT ABOUT GIVING PEOPLE THINGS TO DO, IT IS ABOUT MAKING PEOPLE BELIEVE THEY HAVE A CONTRIBUTION TO MAKE. Sharon  Carmichael,  Barbadian  Psychotherapist.  iv  TABLE OF CONTENTS  Abstract  ii  Table of Contents  iv Reflections  1  Chapter One  A Journey of a Thousand Miles... Where to Start What's in a Name Home of the Green Girls Whatever you can Imagine  2 3 4 8 10  Chapter Two  ...Starts with a Single Step The First Bunny 1000 Yards of Material  12 13 14  Chapter Three  Help Wanted. No Experience Necessary A Tradition Born Look Ma, I'm Dancing The Foundations are Laid  16 17 18 21  Chapter Four  In the Tunnel. No Turning Back A Harvest of Rewards All Good Things Must Come to an End  22 23 26  Chapter Five  Growing the Spirit The More Things Change the More they Stay the Same New Faces Old Friends Getting to Know You Bring on the Boys A Taste of Success  28 28 30 34 35 36 38  Chapter Six  In the Swing of Rehearsals Making it Their Own The Baton Changes Hands The Team Grows Stronger Halfway There Becoming a Family  40 40 44 45 47 49  Chapter Seven  Finishing Touches Lights Costumes Just Having Fun with my Friends Action Camelot Revisited  52 52 54 55 56 60  V  Chapter Eight  The Performance Takes Off Flowers and Fears There go my Babies Maintaining Focus and Energy Success and Confidence Turning into Fun Keeping Discipline Laughter and Tears  62 63 68 70 74 77 78  Chapter Nine  Journey's End A Junior Jaunt Down Memory Lane The Seniors Plan Ahead  81 81 84  Chapter Ten  From a Distance Looking Back Looking Forward A Final Note  87 87 95 97  Bibliography  100  1  Reflections Lipstick  and green eye shadow.  Silver glitter that gets in my eyes. I'm tired of sticking UV paper on costumes, the glue is always on my fingers Miss Adamira  is calling  someone a Nincompoop.  Blue costumes are my favorite, I hate green or orange. I hope the big girls write something nice in my program. I sign my name a hundred times over. There is a bomb scare and we all have to stand out on the field. My mother is searching for my little brother, then she sees him. The 'Obeah man' is running across the lawn with him on her shoulder. He cannot walk because he is wearing his octopus costume. We do another show for the audience and the shark spits the bomb onstage. I tell Miss Adamira that one of the lines does not make sense and she corrects it. One of the backstage boys nearly fell through the roof! The audience thought it was part of the show. The big girls are so beautiful, we are all pretty. I am allergic to the cane arrows on stage. What's the Don't  audience like tonight?  scratch yourself  on stage.  Smile, keep smiling. I am a firework, My sister is an icicle, My little brother is the octopus, My big brother lowers him down from the catwalk. My mother is doing the fast changes, My father is bartending. We are all here.  2  1. A JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES... The year was 1977.  I was 11 years old and presented with the  first big decision of my life. speaking w i n d fairy?  W o u l d I rather be a mermaid or a  W e were rehearsing for our Christmas  pantomime, "The Fire Princess", and A n n a A d a m i r a , our director, i n an uncharacteristic display of democracy, allowed me the choice. decision was huge;  The  a small speaking part was a step up towards  becoming a principal, but being a mermaid meant an additional costume and a chance to perform with the senior chorus i n the spectacular underwater scene.  I chose to be a mermaid.  The "Fire Princess" was to be the last pantomime i n w h i c h I performed as a child.  T w o years later when we should have been  preparing for the next b i g show, A n n a A d a m i r a retired teaching.  from  A l t h o u g h my "career" as a performer only lasted until the  age of 11, the pantomimes had a tremendous impact on me.  The  second half of my school life at St. Winifred's School, even becoming head girl, seemed to pale i n comparison to the excitement of preparing and performing i n shows. The managing director of Standard Distributors is a guy called Danatis. H i s wife was a young girl at St. Winifred's School, whom I had chosen to be the Genie of the R i n g but her mother would not let her. She passed the Eleven Plus, came back to the pantomime, and sat and cried through the whole pantomime. N o w I did not know this. I am decorating Standard for Christmas and go to meet this gentleman. H e says, 'I know you very well...my wife knows you w e l l and for 17 years I've heard about how she wanted to be Genie of the R i n g . ' She told the husband, 'I want to go back to Barbados...take the job, because I want my children to go to St. Winifred's to be i n these pantomimes.' (Anna Adamira)  3  Where to Start April 16.1996 An overwhelming sense of panic threatens to engulf me as I contemplate the volume of work that lies ahead in the next six months. Pantomimes, as elaborate and spectacular as they are as a final product, are many times more elaborate in preparation. To take the reins for one such production is an experience of a lifetime, a challenge that must be met. To accept responsibility a second time is nothing short of sheer lunacy! The fact that both Anna Adamira and my mother, Hazel McConney, have survived seven pantomimes, is a testament to either their courageous hearts and boundless energy or their threshold for punishment. My immediate task is to decide which pantomime we will produce. Even before my return to Barbados the word on the street was that we would be doing "Cinderella". As likely a choice as any, I am happy to oblige with an appropriate script, except for a few nagging worries. 1. Cinderella is remarkably similar in nature to our pantomime "Sleeping Beauty" that we produced seven years ago. "Sleeping Beauty" was followed by "Robinson Crusoe" and "Aladdin", in an attempt to explore the exotic side of pantomime. Now on the occasion of the school's seventy-fifth anniversary, is it desirable to return to a classical fairy tale? 2. Old sets and costumes from "Sleeping Beauty" could be used appropriately in "Cinderella". Can we alter their look sufficiently, so that they are not as easily recognized, or will "die hard" audience members be disappointed in the recycled goods? Initially, I rejected the idea of any compromise and insisted that we had to make everything fresh. Now, I am beginning to think I would be insane not to make use of existing costumes and sets. This is our chance to improve and embellish on a previous look. One woodland scene may even be considered a tribute to past pantomimes, if we incorporate all our flora and fauna costumes.  4 3. Principal roles in "Cinderella" are mainly comic and cry out for experienced actors. The students at St. Winifred's have little drama experience. I am greatly tempted to insert a few adults into these roles. This leaves only a few speaking parts for students. Food for thought!  What's  in a  Name  A pantomime is something that...you have fun first thing, and you dance, you talk, and it's a lot of fun. ( E m m a - A g e 7) A play based on a fairy tale and usually performed at Christmas time. (The Collins English Dictionary)  Christmas pantomime has been a popular form of entertainment  i n England for over three hundred years.  Present  day pantomime is comedy, magic, song and dance, built around favorite fairy tales  and nursery  rhymes.  Years ago a writer laid down the rules that should be observed in constructing an ideal pantomime. He said: 'There must be songs, there must be a ballet; there should be some sufficient reproduction of a fairy tale to be recognized by the children; there should be scope for the impossible, the absurd and the grotesque and there should be a full stage and plenty of spectacle.' ( W i l s o n , 1948:134). The origins of pantomime are different from the traditions we recognize now. Y e t i n the three hundred years of change it has remained the same at heart.  The first pantomimes  at Christmas and were not targeted content, characters  were not  towards children.  and stories, are not familiar to us.  staged  Its form, Pantomime  has changed over the years to suit the trends and demands  of each  5 new generation, and w i l l continue to change to reflect the manners of future  generations. F r o m the very beginning Pantomime was acutely aware of the world around it and eager to exploit the comic or emotional possibilities of whatever was topical (Frow, 1985:136). The word "pantomime" is Greek i n origin and means "an  imitator of things".  "Pantomime", therefore,  originally referred to  performer and not the show i n which he appeared. words and told his story through movement accompanied by music.  the  H e spoke no  and gestures,  This form of entertainment  often  was k n o w n  among several early cultures, but was identified as being especially popular i n the R o m a n empire.  The pantomime seemed to decline i n  popularity i n R o m e but was revived i n a similar form i n the century i n Italy,  where it was k n o w n as C o m m e d i a dell'arte.  here, i n Italy, that the original comic characters pantomime.  fifteenth  A m o n g these new characters  It was  were introduced to  were the predecessors  of  the Harlequin and the C l o w n . W h e n pantomime  was introduced into E n g l a n d , H a r l e q u i n was  the early favorite, and developed into the p r i n c i p a l character show, amazing the audience with his magical tricks.  i n the  Words were  still not used i n these shows and a common story generally dictated every performance.  H a r l e q u i n is thwarted by Pantaloon i n his  attempts to marry his beautiful daughter,  Columbine.  H a r l e q u i n runs  off with the girl and employs the C l o w n to help prevent Pantaloon from  catching  them.  These characters  were the main enjoyment  of any evening at  the theatre, and followed an "opening" that was based on a fairy tale.  6 The opening lasted a few short scenes, w h i l e the Harlequinade consisted of  up to twenty scenes.  A s time went on, the fairy tale  portion of the pantomime developed and improved i n quality.  The  C l o w n and Harlequin were no longer solely responsible for the evening's  entertainment.  O l d fashioned pantomimes were very simple i n appeal - just a little fairy story or nursery tale unfolded with dialogue i n verse, some pretty songs and music and a good deal of magic, all of w h i c h was followed by the more boisterous fun of the Harlequinade, w h i c h many grown ups tolerated only for the sake of the children, who certainly enjoyed it ( W i l s o n , 1948:82). Over the years the C l o w n had increasingly stolen the spotlight from the Harlequin, until he became the hero of the show. somewhere  between  1860 and  their roles i n jeopardy.  But  1870, both these characters  found  M u s i c H a l l entertainers began to be  introduced to the fairy tale portion of the pantomime, and these funny men began to rob the C l o w n of much of his "comic business". Gradually,  Harlequin and C l o w n were given less and less to do, until  finally they ceased to exist i n the pantomimes that we know today. Today's tradition of pantomime  incorporates  new  into its fairy tales, the most famous of whom is the dame.  characters The dame  is the main comic force i n the show and is usually played by a man, costumed i n outrageous  outfits to increase comic value.  The p r i n c i p a l  boy is played by a woman, and along with his principal girl does most of the singing and "love-making".  There is always a fairy  queen, who knows her place and always enters stage right, and inevitably an e v i l force, who dominates stage left.  Virtue and  7 goodness  always w i n out i n a pantomime, and e v i l is consistently  punished. The spectacular  transformation  scenes,  that were used  to  herald the beginning of the Harlequinade, are still reflected i n modern pantomimes  by the overall elaborate  large cast numbers.  The rhyming couplets used i n the original fairy  tale pantomimes in verse.  sets, costumes  have been dropped and only the fairies now  and  speak  In general, the basic story remains the same today as it  was when the pantomime was only the opening for the Harlequinade. This 'opening' consisted of some fairy tale or nursery story i n w h i c h generally the characters included the village boy and girl who were sweethearts, a mother or some woman described as 'dame' and a w i c k e d baron or equally w i c k e d village squire who persecuted the virtuous characters and was properly punished i n the end. It was considered right that pantomime should inculcate a good moral lesson ( W i l s o n , 1948:39).  The pantomime is a l i v i n g , growing art form.  It has survived  by taking and expanding from the new ideas that each age has given. The they back like  pantomimes before were very...they were fabulous but were very pantomime. W i t h ' A l a d d i n ' , you had just come and it was your fresh ideas. It was like a l l the new stuff, technology and stuff, effects and stuff. ( N a o m i - A g e 16)  8 April 25 "Cinderella" it is! My worries remain unresolved but the comic potential for "Cinderella" is too tempting to resist. As fast as the word goes out, speculation "runs rampant" among the students. Who will play Cinderella? One little beauty in the prep department informs her brother that she will claim the lead. He knowingly corrects her stating, "You're too little to be Cinderella, one of the green girls has to do it!" (The prep department students wear a checked uniform, while the seniors wear green.)  Home of the Green Girls St.Winifred's School is located on the South coast of the small island of Barbados.  Barbados can easily be found on a map of the  Caribbean, as it sticks out, on its own, to the East of the chain of islands.  M a n y of the islands that are part of the chain are a result of  volcanic activity and therefore  sport black sand beaches.  Barbados  in comparison, has white coral beaches, which any Barbadian w i l l tell you  are  magnificent.  Barbados was settled i n 1629 by the E n g l i s h , but q u i c k l y became  a melting pot of different cultures as various nationalities  arrived either voluntarily or as slaves.  The resulting natives are a  mixture of E n g l i s h , A f r i c a n , Scottish, Irish, and various other nationalities. Barbados became independent  i n 1966, but many of the  E n g l i s h institutions still remain. The schools and legal system  are  British.  western  The parliament, the oldest democratic system i n the  hemisphere,  follows the Westminister model.  The Governor General  is appointed by the Queen of England, and indeed some people still refer to Barbados as "Little England".  Is it any wonder, then, that  9 Barbadians enjoy British humor?  In this w o r l d , the tradition of  British pantomime was equally welcome, as it found its home at St.Winifred's  School.  St.Winifred's School is a privately owned school that was founded i n 1921 by  M i s s Charlotte Seale.  M i s s Seale was incensed at  the kind of education offered to girls i n Barbados, and rejected  the  notion that education was wasted on women who were supposed be kept at home "barefoot and pregnant". educated i n England  to  M i s s Seale had been w e l l  and from the beginning set a high standard,  that i n a few years St.Winifred's girls were sitting the Oxford  so  and  Cambridge examinations that were taken by boys i n other public schools.  M i s s Seale started her school with eighteen girls and by the  end of the first year had to expand her school to accommodate many additional girls that were requesting her education.  the  In five  years the school had grown to ninety girls. Today the school comprises a role of six hundred students.  The  primary and junior sections of the school are C o - E d , but the senior school remains restricted to girls.  The students of St.Winifred's  reflect a cross section of the Barbados population.  A l t h o u g h some  scholarships are now offered on academic merit, the school still charges  fees,  and therefore  continues to attract middle and  upper  income families. The school has changed location once since it was founded and presently sits on a six acre lot i n a quiet neighborhood, backing onto the residence of the Barbadian Governor General. tidy, attractive collection of grassy playing fields.  The school is a  two story buildings, tennis courts and  The central focus for the school is a large coral  10 stone building with an impressive pillared entrance.  This is the  school's auditorium, or as we like to refer to it, The H a l l . The  H a l l was constructed i n 1955, when little thought was  given to the importance it w o u l d play i n the school's continuing history.  Perhaps our neighbors, M r . and M r s . Clifton Wright, who  donated the funds to build the theatre, were visionaries. donated the funds because  they were very impressed with the school  and wanted to see the school "grow and prosper". survived through the years  They  with  The H a l l has  surprisingly little maintenance  or  alterations and the space has proved to be appropriate for the B r i t i s h pantomimes  we  produce.  Whatever You Can Imagine May 1 I am censoring myself before I even get my ideas down on paper! Now I understand why writers and directors should never have to worry about budgets or technical problems. Every grand set, costume or effect I envision is accompanied by the realization that I, or my mother, will personally have to make it happen.  Strange how clearly one can see from a distance.  I used to  criticize A n n a for having so little concern about the expenses and labor required to make her visions a reality. taking unfair advantage  I thought she was  of her volunteers, saddling them w i t h w o r k  that she never even witnessed.  I felt angry about how hard my  mother worked and wanted to protect her from Anna's selfish  and  constant demands.  and  I never realized how much more elaborate  11 creative her ideas could be without the burden o f logistical worries. However, m y mother understood way that I never  and they worked as a team i n a  recognized.  A n n a related how she wished to have 'Crusoe's' ship 'break up' on an offstage cue. The idea o f introducing such realism on stage was considered over ambitious, i f not impossible. Pantomime Coordinator, H a z e l M c C o n n e y , d i d not share that view. What she might have whispered i n the ears o f fathers, uncles and friends is not known, but 'Crusoe's' nightly shipwreck became the dramatic highlight that closed A c t One ( B l a c k m a n , 1996:41).  Louise  I  it  and Andrew love Breathe a sigh of  Sandra is going away. can't design the sets too! Fairy has to I  I  Not  trees  the script! relief.  must  tale, fairy tale, look like a fairy tale.  need more musicfind that closing number.  What would you find - trees aren't pretty  in a wood? and they can't  dance.  The house is black as the music awakens. Softly, slowly we hear a voice "Once upon a time..." A glowing light and the story book opens. From the stillness of the page climbs a tiny fairy. She yawns and stretches and the magic begins.  12  2  ...STARTS W I T H A S I N G L E STEP  If you have something i n your head it can work. Just find a way to make it work. (Natasha-Age 13)  M a y 24  Meet with Anna to go over costumes before heading to Miami to shop for material. Anna is supportive, as she was in the last pantomime. As I run through my ideas, she comments on costumes, magical effects, etc. You can always tell when she does not like an idea because she sits quietly and listens. When she likes it, she joins in excitedly and adds emphasis. She really hates the fact that I refuse to open my pantomimes with a little fairy spouting prose. Also, she does not like the fairy queen to be a comic character. She must have her beautiful ballerina queen. Wigs are another must! I agree that it would be nice to have our ballroom dancers in wigs, but the expense is a little more than we can handle. She is adamant that we should make use of existing costumes. "Use them all - the squirrels, bunnies, butterflies, birds, flowers. Think how exciting it would be for mothers to see their old bunny costume on the stage again."  I'm surprised that St. Winifred's girls can even write. H o p p i n g around with your paws tucked under your chin is not conducive to neat penmanship. (Andrea-past student)  13  The First Bunny Traditional B r i t i s h Pantomimes have had a place i n St. Winifred's School, Barbados,  since 1969.  They were introduced  by the one and only drama teacher the school has ever had, A n n a Adamira.  A t the age of 14, A n n a had moved to England to further  her studies, and it was i n that country that she gained her first real exposure to drama, and especially B r i t i s h pantomime. Being a foreign student I did not come home for Christmas. So while everyone else was at home, I was at the school w o r k i n g with M i s s Jack. I was m i x i n g the pearly glue and what not. Not because they taught that as a course, but because I happened to stay i n the school. I learnt how to fly the sets and r o l l the sets. So you see how life puts you on the path you are supposed to follow. (Anna Adamira)  After she had completed a degree i n speech and drama at the L o n d o n A c a d e m y of M u s i c and Dramatic Arts,  Anna Adamira  taught  for a few years i n Jamaica, then returned to Barbados and applied for a job at St. Winifred's School.  Daphne St. John, the headmistress who  hired M i s s A d a m i r a , acknowledges the importance of Anna's arrival and the effect her pantomimes had on the school. The school at the time was i n disrepair and i n debt.  O l d girls  were beginning to send their children to competing schools because the school looked so run down.  They were i n the process of cutting  and selling the mahogany trees to raise money for the salaries.  Jeanne  Bancroft, the secretary  treasurer,  teachers'  and self-appointed  historian of the school, lists the arrival of A n n a and the pantomimes as one of four milestones i n the school's history.  14  I think the school needed a push. It had gotten, i n my opinion, a little sleepy, a little lazy, a little too not involved. (Daphne St. John, Past Head Mistress) I said ' M r s . St. John, for G o d sake do not cut the trees, I w i l l be able to bring you enough money to pay the teachers.' But I think she thought I was a young k i d , because I was only 22, talking off the top of my hat, but I knew what I was doing i n Jamaica and I knew I could do it. (Anna Adamira) So A n n a guaranteed that, i f she could put on a pantomime, it w o u l d be enough to pay her salary and give us something for the building fund. M r s . St. John asked, 'Jeanne, you think we could risk it?' I said 'yes.' If M r s . St. John wanted it, she told you afterwards that there was nothing she ever wanted that I did not try to give her. (Jeanne Bancroft, Past Secretary Treasurer)  1000 Yards of Material May 28 Final preparations for our Miami adventure. We search Bridgetown to check what material is available in Barbados. Moon glow, crystal charm and satin are easy to find but the brocade and glittery material is too scarce and expensive. The fogger needs to go back up for repair. Measurements must be taken for the wings, traps, backdrops and traverse. This year I want to have more three dimensional props on the stage, as opposed to painted flats. I want curtains draped from the wings and a carpet to cover the trap door through which the mice will change into horses. M y biggest wish is for a scrim to hang across the proscenium but this may be a little extravagant.  15  There We  are  three  compare then buy  "Diamond"  stores  material all over the first bolt we  in  Miami.  the city, saw.  Jackpot! tiny store filled with flashy stage material. aisles are so narrow that you have to walk through sideways. It is impossible to see the material clearly so I take my sketches to the owner. "I need an emerald green brocade for this costume." He pulls down a bolt of material. Perfect ! A  The  A  hot-dog  with  When can we have lunch? ketchup and a honey glazed  donut.  June 14 Dear Pat, Here in Barbados, we are poised on the brink of pantomime madness. I wrote the script as soon as I returned to Barbados, then designed the costumes and sets. We tripped off to Miami last week for our marathon material shopping expedition and now that we're back, I am continuing to source the music we need. This weekend marks the real start of activity. On Friday the prop builders meet, Saturday the painters begin, and Sunday we hold auditions. Rehearsals then begin three weeks later. The kids are extremely keen and excited, and I have been fielding calls from past students who wish to return to the stage. I even have a former backstage boy who is determined to be onstage instead of backstage this year AnneMarie  16  3. HELP WANTED. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY June 21 Prop meeting. Peter is enthusiastic but some of his ideas for the props are a little too sophisticated for our needs. He wants to design a waterfall with real water but I am very reluctant to have water on the stage. The next suggestion is to shift one of the wings to make room for the carriage entrance. It is difficult to convince him that it is not a good idea to be moving a part of the stage on a nightly basis. Patrick jokes and wants to make fun but Peter will have none of it. He is serious and has a job to do.  June 22 The designs for the sets have been converted into transparencies that we can project onto the backdrops but first we must paint over a few old scenes to make way for the new. This is always a heartbreaking exercise and should be done quickly without too much deliberation. It is impossible to keep making new backdrops each pantomime. Not only are they difficult and expensive to make but we have limited storage space and backdrops do not store well. This year we decide to paint over the old kitchen scene from "Sleeping Beauty". "Aladdin's" castle interior will also be partly repainted to look like the interior of Prince Charming's castle. I am thrilled to find that our old wood scene can be moved from bottom stage to the top stage, with the bottom rolled up to fit properly. Nicolas brings his mother along to help. She says he was determined to help in some way with the show. He is only six years old but grabs a brush and starts to paint out the old scene. This is always the way, the kids pulling in their parents to become involved.  What usually happens is that I get involved, then one of the other parents involved drags M u m into it. After a little while she would just get right into it. (Isaac-Age 14)  17  A Tradition Born M i s s A d a m i r a was convinced that she could make pantomimes as popular i n Barbados as they were i n England.  She could see the  potential for scripts to be adapted to local situations, and knew the humor w o u l d delight the Barbadian public. musical and love to laugh.  Barbadians are quite  A t the time, television i n Barbados was  very limited, and theatre was almost nonexistent.  A n extravagant  Christmas event w o u l d be a welcome treat i n this small community. N o one had a clear understanding of what M i s s A d a m i r a was attempting to achieve when she began her first show, but she was so dynamic, that she managed to corral volunteers from the parents of the school.  Those who could sew a straight line were put to work  sewing the costumes.  A n y o n e with a shred of artistic talent  became  backdrop painters, and those who could not confess to any particular talent found themselves with a tube of U H U glue and a bag of sequins i n their hands.  M y own mother, a veritable workhorse who  was quickly targeted for any community activity, pulled into this den of creativity.  was one who was  Never having sewed a stitch i n her  life, she was convinced by M i s s A d a m i r a (a woman who thought staples were comparable to stitches) that it was simple.  M y mother,  H a z e l M c C o n n e y , began at that point a career i n sewing and designing costumes  for the  pantomimes.  So it was a tremendous achievement because she came into a school that had no tradition of drama like that. The staff i n a way were not fully cooperative because nobody wanted to run a box office, nobody wanted to be a stage manager. People weren't keen on a m i l l i o n things. I mean, how could we teach and do a l l these things. (Daphne St. John)  18  I used to get a l l the fabrics given. I used to go out with a l l these rich fellows and make them give bolts and yards. I begged everything. Every single thing. One fellow was a Swiss jeweler, he wanted to take me out and I made h i m paint all the sets one year. (Anna Adamira) Then a l l these old girls and parents helped tremendously i n a l l aspects, selling programs, making costumes, helping to get ads, l o o k i n g after parking, a l l these things, the refreshments and so forth. (Daphne St. John) M r s . St. John, to tell you the difference i n headmistresses, her machine i n the office, and a l l the spare time, she was sewing. (Jeanne Bancroft)  had  Look Ma, I'm Dancing June 23 Auditions! The mums are busy organising themselves in the breezeway ready to register all who wish to audition. Harold is setting up his video camera so we can record the whole process. Louise and I chat as Peter comes in to check a detail for one of the props. I introduce him to Louise as Emma's father and she explodes with compliments for Emma, "That child is sent from heaven!" Peter goes about his business gruffly, pretending that he is unaffected by the comments but the glow of pride in his eyes betrays him. The Junior Chorus is a delight to watch at auditions. Their faces light up and glow with a joy that is rare to see. They will be a wonderful chorus and thankfully I will be able to place most of them. Many more arrive for the senior chorus audition. Our past seniors strut their stuff, the younger ones try hard to keep up, and the older first timers try to act cool despite the difficulties they are having with the steps. Many of these will have to be turned away. This is a job I detest.  The principals are a fun group who will work well together. The challenge will be casting them correctly. My intended arrangement is not ideal. Cinderella is too tall for her Prince, the Prince is too feminine and the boys are not confident enough to play in the roles of the stepsisters. Reshuffles are in order. Don't forget, Cinderella should have long hair, but not too long or she w i l l look like Rapunzel.  (Krista-Age 4)  F i n d i n g actors among the students in the school was the next challenge faced by M i s s A d a m i r a .  These girls had never had a drama  lesson and never performed on stage. M i s s A d a m i r a steamed  Undeterred,  her way through the difficulties  and  started  to shape a young but excited cast. A l l these girls... and they were bad, when I tell you bad, I mean bad. I would take a whole form and put them as first chorus. A whole form as second chorus. Whether you were spastic or ugly or whatever, you were i n that group. Y o u were no dancer, but you danced and that was the whole thing. A n d when you are up there i n a pretty costume and you're doing simple movements... it's not the technique, it's the visual that I worked on. It was visual. (Anna Adamira)  June 24 One of the students whom I intended to audition for the role of Cinderella did not turn up for the audition. I phone her at home and she says she forgot but would still like to try. I arrange to give her a private audition during break time. Jonelle shows up with her long dark hair straightened and neatly styled, quite the contrast to the hurriedly piled bun she usually sports. She has the perfect look for the character and reads reasonably well. She promises that she will be committed and dedicated to the rehearsal process and asks if she can still be in a chorus if she does not get chosen as Cinderella. I promise to include her in a chorus if necessary but I know she is my Cinderella.  20 I do not remember ever auditioning for one of Anna's pantomimes.  It seemed as i f everyone who was interested w o u l d  just show up and then be separated into different chorus groups. A n n a never worried about the number of cast members. She w o u l d just create more costumes and dance numbers.  She also never felt  limited as to the number o f children she could put on stage at the same time.  The woodland scene i n "Robin H o o d " boasted at least 75  little creatures running around i n patterns  o f color and movement.  Anna's work was a l l about the visual impact. welcomed but never expected.  Talent was  A n n a w o u l d occasionally choose  principals based on their acting ability but more often than not a character was cast strictly because they looked the part. M a i d was a shy, quiet girl, an unlikely  Marion  choice for the role but for her thick,  brown hair that flowed almost to her knees.  Another adorable  youngster captured starring roles i n two sequential pantomimes  but  had to survive every rehearsal with A n n a screaming "I can't hear you!"  July 1 Louise and I discuss the dance numbers and make the rehearsal schedule for the summer. The cast will have the first and last week of summer vacation off, rehearse the middle six weeks, then return for weekend rehearsals during the school term. Unable to accept cast members who will be away for too long, four mothers have agreed to rearrange their holidays so their children can be in the show.  21  The Foundations are Laid The result of Anna's first instinctive, yet determined  effort,  was a performance of "Mother Goose" that older Barbadians still remember and can recall v i v i d l y . resources  M i s s A d a m i r a , with limited  and talent had managed to produce a show that challenged  the very best amateur theatre groups anywhere i n the w o r l d . tradition was born to St. Winifred's  A new  School.  Funnily enough, the same prayer that was said when I was a young girl 14 years at school i n England, that is the same prayer I used at my pantomime. (Anna Adamira) W e had the first night and it went off with a bang and suddenly the public realized, here is something. W h e n Jeanne Bancroft saw what could be done, as financial administrator, she put her full weight into pantomimes. H a v i n g proven not only that could you produce but you could make money, she was very enthusiastic. (Daphne St. John) W h e n she sat and saw the droves of people coming i n , the dollar bills, like Donald Duck, drew up i n her eyes. W h e n she sees me now she sees little dollar signs. (Anna Adamira) June 29 The guys meet at Peter's house rather than transport all the tools down to the school. They will build some of the big props there, then work on the smaller stuff at the school. Some of the painters and I work on the backdrops at the school and I miss having the guys there as well. I make them a cake and Peter gives me strict instructions not to bring it down until the afternoon. He does not want the work interrupted too early.  22  4.  IN THE TUNNEL.  NO TURNING B A C K  July 2 Aloha Sue, Auditions went well on Sunday last, and Louise is thrilled with her choruses. The Principals have gone through so many metamorphoses that I hardly remember what my original plan was. I was bombarded with requests from old girls who wanted to perform but I did not allow them to audition because I wanted to see what I had from the younger students. I tried to get the boys to read for the stepsisters, but neither one wanted to touch the part with a ten foot pole (still too young)! Andrea and Rachel took over from them and were hilarious so I decided to go with the girls as the stepsisters. I was really happy with my group and felt they would work well together because they are all friends anyway. Then Bucket and Andrea pulled out. Bucket's tall, lanky look was perfect for the Major Domo and it was disappointing to lose him. Likewise, it is hard to imagine anyone more suitable than Andrea to play one of the stepsisters. Her natural talent for comedy will be missed. The whole situation is frustrating because I had what I thought was the perfect cast and lost it, in less than a week. The enthusiasm of the young kids, who attended the auditions, makes me keen to stick with an all student cast. I hope I will be able to find the needed actors without resorting to the more experienced adults. AnneMarie  July 2 Petty bickering before rehearsals even begin! Why did this person get that part? Do we have to share a dressing room with the younger kids in our chorus? A H H H ! ! Remind me why I am doing this again?  23  A  Harvest  of  Rewards  T w o years ago a young blond w h i r l w i n d named A n n a A d a m i r a blew a l l the cobwebs off the staid St. Winifred's traditions and swept the incredulous pupils into their first real show, an enormously successful 'Mother Goose'. She has done it again this year - this time supported by the confidence of the girls themselves, confidence gained from their earlier triumph (Prescot, 1971:1,8). Over the years that followed, the pantomimes increasingly sophisticated and professional.  became  A s the girls i n the school  were now attending drama classes, their skills on the stage i m p r o v e d dramatically.  Great attention was given to the script, and m u s i c a l  dance and songs were carefully choreographed.  Teachers i n the  school were also beginning to recognize the positive effects drama was having on their  that  students.  Y e s , a l l of that learning scripts, and being at rehearsal on time, doing what they were told to do. A l l that discipline helped i n the classroom. Y o u could see them blossoming with confidence in the classroom. It was very good for the shy ones. They were transformed on the stage. (Daphne St. John) She was a mess, but I put her front row, pantomime, because she was so gorgeous onstage, but she was very introverted and shy. I put her up front row and she held her own beautifully onstage, beautifully onstage. ( A n n a A d a m i r a ) The pantomimes  continued to follow the rules and traditions of  the B r i t i s h versions, and Barbadian audiences recognize and expect a certain product.  soon learned  Foremost were the  sets and costumes that took the audience's breath away. cast numbers  to beautiful  The large  were taken for granted, and the good and bad fairies  were quickly identified on their appropriate  sides of the stage.  Most  24 popular of a l l was the dame.  The audience enjoyed her local dialect  and humor, and never missed that she should have been played by a man.  In a girls' school this was a difficult tradition to follow. 'To see my folk and a l l my friends again, A r o u n d the family Christmas tree... That's what Christmas means to me!' The eye-misting words of the big finale from the St. Winifred's S c h o o l Pantomime - ' A l a d d i n ' . A n d for many people ' A l a d d i n ' is just that...a Barbadian family Christmas Tree, where, over the next several weekends, folk and friends w i l l gather to share the mysterious excitement and heart of Christmas...the heart of Christmas that is so definitely the innocence and j o y of The C h i l d . Here, the c h i l d dancing and singing and acting its heart out, not expertly perhaps, but giving fully of itself - and i n this g i v i n g , restoring and rejuvenating adults weary of a confusing and sometimes bitter w o r l d (Prescot, 1971:1,8). F r o m the opening number i n P e k i n g (which miraculously turns into Bridgetown) to the closing nostalgic Christmas song, y o u ' l l be transported into wonderland. This, of course, is partly due to the pleasing sets and fabulous costumes, but more especially to the enthusiasm of the young artists who share their pleasure w i t h the audience, making us forget a l l the hard work, they and their producer, A n n a A d a m i r a , must have put i n during the past few months (Harrison, 1971:2). The pantomimes  school, and proceeds  became the main fundraising effort i n the managed  to build the majority of buildings now  found on the property. Apart from the obvious financial benefits, shows were benefiting the school i n other unexpected ways. public relations project it was hard to beat: the school was  As a associated  with a favorite Christmas activity, and was always thought of i n positive terms by the public.  M o r e important, the school was  developing the most w i l l i n g and enthusiastic  the  body of parents to be  25 found i n any school i n Barbados.  E v e n when not w o r k i n g on the  shows, parents started to look for many other ways to help and improve the school. 'The M e r r y Adventures of R o b i n H o o d and Babes i n the W o o d ' , currently being staged at St. Winifred's, support the absolute and definitive argument i n favour of private schools. It is a production, i n the first place, arising out of sheer necessity. There is no inexhaustible Treasury from w h i c h the school building fund can be generously supplied. The parents and pupils have to find the money themselves. A n d find it they w i l l , i f the thousands who attend the pantomime, paying tribute to their initiative, is any indication. It is a production, i n the second place, the scope and attainment of w h i c h is beyond the reach of any Government institution, confined as they are by rules, regulations and budgets, w h i c h boggle the imagination and inhibit the action. In fact, for so truly 'professional' an elaborate performance to be produced at a l l , requires concentration of decision making within the hands of a single genius. Y o u may call h i m - or, i n this case, her - a dictator i f you like, but surely a k i n d l y and paternal dictator, using a free hand for the benefit of the whole band of collaborators, and giving the people what they need (if not always what they want). The particular 'dictator' i n question is A n n a A d a m i r a . . . Equally to be congratulated, are the governors of the school, its headmistress, the players and the backstage crew. The governors, possible with some trepidation, must have given permission for the use of money to raise money; the headmistress must be a tolerant and forward l o o k i n g person to tolerate - and indeed co-operate - an effort disruptive, however m i l d l y , to academic pursuits: the players were simply marvelous, and the backstage backed them nobly up. Naturally, those most directly responsible for my delight were the players. It is truly eye-opening to ponder that one relatively small school could produce such a wealth of talent. The acting, the expressions, the vocal delivery, the obvious enjoyment of their roles, the precision achieved i n the dance numbers, even by the tinniest P i n k Rabbit, spoke volumes, not only for M r s . Adamira's directing genius, but for the spirit of St. Winifred's - and the nurture of that spirit by its teaching staff (Cummings, 1973:5).  26 St. Winifred's School had definitely found its niche.  F r o m its  earliest origins as a modest "drawing room" school, it had finally made a name for itself as a leading authority i n the field of drama. The pantomimes were important i n creating a positive perception of the school. People recognized that St.Winifred's put on these marvelous shows and commented on how l i v e l y and energetic the school seemed. People began to send their children to St. Winifred's. Especially parents who had children who were not academically gifted. They thought their c h i l d could get something out of being at St. Winifred's. A l l this dancing and p h y s i c a l activity was good for their deportment, and they gained self confidence and learned discipline. This was transferred over to the classroom. (Daphne St. John) One thing the pantomimes d i d was put St. Winifred's on the map of the island of Barbados. Everybody knew there was drama i n St. Winifred's school and it gave the school a different public image. (Jeanne Bancroft)  July 2 First night of real painting and I had a momentary panic attack. Without Sandra here I am left to direct the artists. I have others who are more skilled at painting than I, but they do not seem willing to make any decisions about how the scene should look. As we set forth on the first scene I felt frustrated at what seemed to be fumbling efforts, but by the end of the night I can see it taking shape. Everything will be OK.  All Good Things Must Come to an End In 1979 after the success of "The Fire Princess", M i s s A d a m i r a retired from teaching to enter the world of business.  There was no  drama teacher to take her place, and so the production of pantomimes came to a temporary end.  The pantomimes had been  27 the main fund raisers since 1969 and had enabled the school to undertake  its extension program and to make a number of  improvements.  needed  St. Winifred's School was now considered one of the  leading schools on the island and the Committee of Management felt confident that they could take a break from demanding fund raising activities. For me, as a student i n the school, I was crushed. had performed i n the junior choruses.  I had treasured  F o r years I every  moment, been proud to be part of the process, and had felt so very special.  Not only did I not want these moments to end, I also wanted  my chance to progress to a principal role. I think that we achieved what we set out to do. I remember, as a student, how much I used to look forward to the shows and what I gained from the school that I attended. I learned many lessons i n practical social integration through the c o m i n g together of pupils, staff, past students, parents and persons from the wider community when a pantomime was staged annually at Christmas time. I wanted to re-create for St. Winifred's the coming together of parents and children. The results have been of particular benefit to the children, i n that it has helped many of those, who were not considered to be academic, develop a high degree of self assurance...at the luncheon table with the other teachers, when certain pupils have been discussed, I have spoken favorably about their ability and interest i n our drama classes. Other teachers have differed with me i n that they found the same pupils inattentive and unable to sit quietly and concentrate...It has also freed many of the students from problems such as shyness and poor self image...shyness that had even affected ability to read aloud i n class. ( A n n a Adamira)  28  5.  G R O W I N G T H E SPIRIT  July 31 Rachel has agreed to design the cover and center page for the pantomime program. Rachel is a past St. Winifred's student and has worked with Sandra in the past. Her style is compatible with Sandra's past work on the programs and will flow nicely.  The M o r e Things Change the M o r e they Stay the  Same  In 1980, I graduated from St.Winifred's School and went on to gain my Bachelor's i n Education from M c G i l l University. to Barbados and began teaching at my o l d school.  I returned  A s a class teacher  for eight year o l d children, I was responsible for teaching a l l the basic subjects and preparing my students  for the Eleven-Pius exam,  which they were required to take at the age of ten. This exam determines entrance into secondary schools and is therefore significance to the parents of the children.  of great  St. Winifred's prides itself  on teaching a variety of subjects to the junior students, and  refuses  to focus only on the M a t h and English required for the Eleven-Pius exam.  There is, however, an accepted agreement that subjects such  as drama and music must take a l o w priority among the core subjects.  In this atmosphere I tried to incorporate as much drama  as possible into the curriculum, usually as a way to teach a social studies or language arts lesson. Although I enjoyed the teaching, I yearned for some focus other than work.  I was not alone i n my desire for stimulation, and  my ally was closer than I would ever have imagined.  I cannot  29 remember how, or when, but somehow, my mother,  Hazel  M c C o n n e y , managed to instigate an alliance with my o l d drama teacher.  M i s s A d a m i r a was eager to resurrect  tradition, and without much further  the  pantomime  consideration the three of us  decided to make a comeback. Proposing the idea of the pantomime, twelve years after  the  tradition had died, seemed almost as difficult as the first time the idea had been introduced. experienced  previous  The new head mistress having not  pantomimes  could  the potential advantages of the venture. considered that rehearsals the same secretary management  not  immediately  appreciate  Other new teachers also  might detract from school work.  Luckily,  treasurer was i n place, and the committee of  now consisted of some ladies, (including H a z e l  M c C o n n e y ) who had been very i n v o l v e d i n the past pantomimes. W e were given the O K , but we faced additional problems.  The  students i n the school, once again, had no drama training, and now, little school spirit either.  They were not accustomed to getting  involved i n extra curricular activities, and could not see any  reason  to give up their time. Parents, as w e l l , were increasingly busy and could not possibly imagine getting i n v o l v e d i n any additional projects.  Our Pantomimes relied on vast numbers  of volunteers.  Without that work force the show w o u l d not be feasible. Interest began to trickle i n from a l i k e l y source, namely the old girls who had performed i n the past pantomimes. mothers,  remembering  their experiences  children the same opportunity.  These new  were keen to allow  their  They were not quite as keen to  volunteer their services i n the preparation for the show, but that  30 over time would slowly change.  W e felt confident that we had the  initial interest that was needed to produce a show. The girls who were i n pantomime are to be i n pantomime. I ' l l never forget saying to her ' Y o u have to be i n the you.' Poor Bridget didn't know what (Anna Adamira)  going to want their kids Bridget's mother, L o r e n , pantomime. It's good for she was getting into.  M y M u m was i n a lot of pantomimes and she told us that it would be great fun. There's a lot of music and dance, and y o u ' l l have a great time. (Rebecca-Age 7)  New  Faces  Aug 8 Mum has agreed to take a short trip to Puerto Rico with Dad who is going on business. We encourage her to spend the time just relaxing but we all know that she is only going so she can shop for additional pantomime supplies. She is determined to find a pair of glass slippers for Cinderella and traces Jonelle's feet to take with her. While she is away I take the opportunity to speak to Valerie. I want her to accept more responsibility for the construction of the costumes. Valerie is already helping with the costumes but I want her to take more of the burden from Mum's shoulders. She agrees to help as much as possible and in the back of my mind I hear Anna's voice, "You must find someone to learn from Hazel." Dear Sue, ...I was trying and measuring costumes i n c l u d i n g Cinderella's "glass" shoes w h i c h I bought i n Puerto R i c o , thank heavens they fit perfectly. . . . A M a r i e is still struggling with the Principals but I think she is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel now, and it w i l l be a good Panto. Love M u m  31 U n l i k e previous shows that had needed little explanation or encouragement, get.  this new beginning needed a l l the publicity it could  W e began a campaign to rally the support we needed to produce  the show.  Newsletters were sent out with a brief  explanation of  what we were trying to achieve and requesting help i n various areas.  Costumes:  I can sew a straight line and am a pro with the  U H U glue.  Building Sets: I need to get morning and express myself i n front of the children. Painting Backdrops: I want been m i s s i n g lately. Selling Tickets: I've always deal w i t h money.  out of the house on a Saturday a way I'm not allowed to do i n to catch up on the gossip I've wanted to sit behind a desk and  Ushering & Selling Programmes: I'm  great at telling people  where to go  Bartending:  Ever since I saw T o m Cruise i n " C o c k t a i l " I've wanted to be a bartender. Selling Food: I consider it a challenge to stuff 500 hot-dogs i n 15 minutes. Directing Traffic: I look quite good i n florescent colors.  A s always, the most difficult area to find help was the sewing circle.  Perhaps it was not that seamstresses  were any harder to find,  but just that we needed many more i n this area than any other. (This may explain why M i s s . A d a m i r a had so brazenly recruited H a z e l back i n the 1960's.)  Other disciplines, that were more social, did not  necessarily require such large numbers of volunteers. response  The i n i t i a l  was t i m i d but undeterred. W e tracked d o w n o l d w o r k  forces, and with little persuasion, recruited them into our ranks.  32 Aug 3 Liz shows up to help with the sets and props. Her presence is like a breath of fresh air as she jokes and makes fun with the guys. Liz claims she has no special skills but her greatest contribution is her positive nature and her willingness to accept any task or job. Nick's mum, Nancy, has continued to come every Saturday to help with any painting. Although Nick now finds it more interesting to play outside with Peter's children, Nancy efficiently paints flat work and primes new props. Nick's Dad has also helped a great deal by supplying paint and building material for free. He insists that I ask him again if I need any other supplies.  O n Saturdays, the carpenters that were needed. seven men.  began to build the sets and props  In this area I believe we started out with a l l of  One of these volunteers, Patrick Bethell, was to become  indispensable, i n this and future shows and i n general, to the school. Patrick was a Barbadian farmer whose young son was St. Winifred's.  attending  Through his involvement with the pantomime Patrick  developed a broader and deeper interest i n the school, to become a hard w o r k i n g member of the Parent Association and eventually it's president.  leading h i m  Teachers  H e was later elected as a  member of the Committee of Management. T o this day, although his son no longer attends St. Winifred's, he continues to make invaluable contributions to the school. A new set designer was discovered from the ranks of past pupils of the school.  Sandra Weekes, a young graphic designer, found  the time i n her busy life to dedicate to the show.  Painting the sets  was no casual commitment. F r o m A p r i l to November, almost every night from 7-10 pm, someone was needed to supervise the artists  at  33 work.  Sandra, not content to stand aside once the sets were finished,  took on the task o f becoming the backstage manager.  Sandra was  recognized for her talents, and her exposure through her work i n the show served to promote her business.  In addition she, like Patrick,  continued to be involved i n other school activities.  She was invited  to present awards at sports days, certificates at speech days, and was even asked by the senior girls to give the speech at their graduation.  Dear Sandra, Haven't you retreated long enough yet? Translate that into, W E MISS Y O U , W E MISS Y O U ! ... Every night Midge says, "I'm just filling this in, a better artist will have to come along and touch up later." We have realized now, that we are the better artist! On the positive side, now that I have gotten over my initial weeks of sheer panic, I have become more confident in making decisions (regarding the painting), and I am now boldly blocking in the entire set of forest wings. I had been resisting this job because, as Linda had said, "Don't bother, trees just happen." Maybe they happen for her, but my other artists would not touch a blank wing. The set builders are also working really well. Patrick is doing the organization and Peter is the main builder, both doing a great job. They have built a giant book, and a fireplace for the two side stages. There is a huge door for the main entrance into Stoneybroke mansion, a lovely bridge for the village and they are working on a curved railing for the gold palace steps. Still to come is the waterfall for the village. They are determined to make it with real water, and have plans for a pump and all. Peter seems to think that building the set gives him license to comment on the painting, so he has been giving me liberal advice. He told me I could not use the old columns, that I had to paint fresh ones! Yours in rainbow colors, AnneMarie  34  Old Friends Once the initial preparations were under way, it was time to cast the show, "Sleeping Beauty".  The greatest interest among the  children tended to be i n the younger classes and this was to be expected, as these were the children o f past pantomime  performers.  W e would have ample choice for the selection o f the choruses, but what about the principals?  There d i d not seem to be much  enthusiasm among the older girls. enthusiasm from another performers  source.  There was, however, great B y now the o l d pantomimes  were not only volunteering their c h i l d r e n and their  services behind the scenes, some o f them were eager to get back on to the stage.  "Sleeping Beauty" became the first St. Winifred's  pantomime to consist o f student  We  almost  and adult  performers.  12 years have passed. resume right where we  The old girls have returned to teach We will show them what pantomime is then it will be their turn.  but  left the all  off. new. about,  I long to be back on stage too, I am helping to write the script and Anna says I can not do everything.  now  produce.  We read the script over and over. She likes my Cockney accent, I can take the small role of Bessie. At  auditions she cannot find the now I must be the Witch.  We now  are rehearsing Anna wants I am the Dame I I  witch,  my sister as the Dame. me to demonstrate, and my sister is the Witch.  am a principal ! am the Dame?  35 Rehearsals began i n full swing i n the summer holidays. In order to accommodate the concerns o f the head mistress we wanted to get the bulk of work out of the way before September.  school began again i n  Once classes began we could rehearse the children only  on the weekends.  T w o new choreographers, both Barbadians  returning from dance training i n England, were chosen to design the musical numbers. Miss Adamira. to the numbers.  In the past, dances had been choreographed by  N o w Louise and L i z brought new life and originality Both L i z and Louise now have their o w n schools of  dance and continue to benefit from the influx of new students that rush to enroll i n dance classes after every pantomime.  Getting to Know You  July 22 The principals are self-conscious and uncomfortable with the warm up exercises. Many have no drama training and therefore view any voice or body warm-ups as being "flaky". They want to just start spouting the lines and practicing on stage. To suggest that they work on their character is ludicrous. They need time to adjust and feel comfortable during rehearsals.  / meet with Sleeping Beauty. She is a beautiful girl but can barely speak. Anna has less patience and more volume than she ever had in the past and this quivering girl is her target. We work the scene over and over... Finally I ask her if she can dance. Maybe she would like to be in the chorus with her friends? She says "Yes, that might be better."  36 July 24 The junior chorus Mums have comfortably established themselves as a weekly audience for the rehearsals. Louise does not really mind but Karen does not know the kids and is somewhat intimidated by an audience. The Mums enjoy watching the kids and are delighted to do any odd jobs we give them. They work so efficiently it is sometimes difficult to keep finding them tasks but as time goes on they will get busier decorating costumes. Andrew especially, is a gem, always welcome at rehearsal. He must be on holiday and enjoys coming down to watch. He is the first up to run and move props, play music and open and close tabs. He never has to be asked. One mum informs me that her daughter was upset because the other kids told her she was not a good enough dancer to be a bird. The mums must have overheard Louise and me separating the chorus into birds, squirrels, bunnies and butterflies. To a certain extent the chorus was separated depending on size and ability, but Natasha has nothing to worry about. She is just as good as any of the other birds.  Bring on the Boys  Aug 21 Peter wants to know who will run my backstage crew. I suggest that he should take charge since he has built the props and his daughter is in the show anyway. He fusses and objects that he will not have the time for that. I know he is interested and will take charge. He just has to get in the appropriate amount of quarreling first. Liz has already agreed to switch over from the dressing room to backstage and Denise will also work backstage this year. Andrew is a "faithful" who I know will help if he can get the time off work. With those four I will have little to worry about in that area.  37 B y the time September rolled around "Sleeping Beauty" was progressing beautifully, and we were ready for the backstage  crew.  The backstage crew had always been an integral part of the pantomime package.  Traditionally consisting of teenage boys  other schools, not only did they efficiently change the many required i n the  show, but they provided endless  the girls i n the show.  from scenes  entertainment  for  In an a l l girls senior school, the opportunity to  socialize with members of the opposite sex was an advantage not to be overlooked.  M a n y a romance was found to have blossomed on the  backstage steps.  O f course, with "Sleeping Beauty", the boys did not  initially flock to volunteer themselves the potential advantages modest group of parents.  as they d i d not yet  of their involvement.  understand  W e began with a  S l o w l y and steadily the most enterprising  of the teenage boys began to sneak i n . W i t h pantomime you come not only for the stage, you come for all your friends and the gossip and everything else - and backstage. ( Z o e - A g e 16) It felt like a team. There was no difference between the backstage and the performers. Everyone seemed to have just as much fun. (Georgina-Age 14) Organizing the vast numbers of  parents and friends required  to work the actual shows, was surprisingly easy.  Once the shows  were running, everyone was keen to get into the act, and we often had many more volunteers than we needed. performers  Parents of the  w o r k e d i n the dressing rooms, applying make-up,  changing costumes, and supervising the children. found  themselves  Other parents  ushering, selling tickets, bartending, c o n t r o l l i n g  traffic and stuffing hot dog buns.  Adults seemed to be having just as  38 much fun as the children, and occasionally had to be reminded to control their "enthusiasm"  for fear of disrupting the  show.  In the beginning my dad was like, ' M a n , I'm never w o r k i n g pantomime again.' B u t he always does that with anything that involves more work than he is used to. Once he gets there he loves talking with a l l the chorus girls and everything, not to make h i m seem like a flirt, but he loves it and he's always teasing everybody. Near the end it wasn't so much of an effort to get h i m to go. L i k e he would actually come home and bathe, dress everything, 'I'm ready, you guys are keeping me back,' and he's waiting at the door. (Rachel-Age 15)  A  Taste  of  Success  Opening night for "Sleeping Beauty" was a frenzy of emotion. W o u l d the audience appreciate  all our efforts?  It was  gratifying to  see the school come together again and work for a common goal. However, we w o u l d be hard pressed to convince the Committee of Management  that the shows were worth doing just for  experience.  The product had to stand on its own and support its  creation.  W e had given little thought  to marketing the  relying on our loyal audiences of the past. for the twenty performances concerned.  the  pantomime,  A s we looked at the sales  scheduled, needless to say, we  The first weekend's  performances  were  w o u l d be crucial i n  order to sell tickets by word of mouth. A standing ovation was our first reward for our efforts.  Tickets  sold q u i c k l y and by the end of the run, our ever thinking  secretary  treasurer, Jeanne Bancroft,  auditorium  was squeezing chairs into the  as tightly as was humanly possible.  (It was acknowledged that  39 St.Winifred's pantomimes forced even the audience to become sociable.)  more  The thrill of success was even sweeter to see on the faces  of our young performers.  So accustomed did they become to the  standing ovations that one of the youngest performers  expressed real  concern on a night when the entire audience failed to stand. The satisfaction of recognition spread to a l l involved i n the show, and i n the school.  The head mistress shared i n this satisfaction  and was to become one of our most avid supporters.  Future  pantomimes w o u l d see her actively marketing the show and dragging non-believers by their ears to view our creations.  M a n y of  the teachers, as w e l l , began to see some of the effect of the shows. Rather than the expected fall off i n performance i n the classroom, many of the children i n v o l v e d i n the show improved i n their school work.  The demanding rehearsals  on the weekends had forced them  to become more organized i n their time management,  and their  success i n the show gave them the confidence they needed to succeed i n the classroom. It was easier for me to plan my day, because I knew that at a certain time I had to be at rehearsal. F r o m then on, you know, after pantomime anything goes. I am usually a terrible person at time management but I actually managed to get things organized. ( K a y a - A g e 17) What I also find that happens to some people, is that because they're i n pantomime their parents are l o o k i n g out for their work to go down. They do that much more, put that much more effort, to prove that they can do their work as w e l l as do pantomime. So i n fact it sometimes improves. L o o k at K e v i n , when he was doing 'Aladdin' he aced a l l of his exams. Reissa says her work improved both pantomimes as w e l l . ( N a o m i - A g e 16)  40  6. I N T H E S W I N G O F R E H E A R S A L S  Dear Eric, The show is progressing nicely now. The script, I am told, is great (I can't comment anymore after working on it for so long.) This is the first week that I have actually begun to enjoy the work. I was so stressed about finding music and getting it altered to suit the dances, that I was ready to pack it in. Finally last weekend things fell into place, and now my other problems seem like a vacation in comparison. The kids have had their compulsory "dressing down" about arriving to rehearsals on time, the uncommitted have been weeded out and replaced, and we can now measure them up for costumes. They are having a ball and will really hit the excitement peak when we start putting the show together. Yours in relief,  AnneMarie  M a k i n g it T h e i r O w n  The success of "Sleeping Beauty"  made it easier to continue the  tradition with "Robinson Crusoe". W e had a w i l l i n g team of volunteers and an eager body of students, who now knew what pantomimes were about and wanted a piece of the action. once again, return to an a l l student production.  the  W e could,  Auditions, this time  around, were over subscribed and we struggled valiantly to include as many students as we could. It was easier to find help during the early part of the preparation for the show, and this time we had some new blood to help recruit.  Patrick Bethell undertook the challenge of organizing  41 the set builders and, i n the organization of the costumes, a new mother, Valerie W a r d , became a right hand to H a z e l . Others became so i n v o l v e d that they designed t-shirts identify the crew members.  to  The backstage crew had their o w n  distinguishing purple and black shirts, the dressing r o o m ladies had their red shirts, and the bartenders,  not to be outdone, had black and  red striped shirts and pirate hats.  W e were thrilled that the parents  were initiating activities on their o w n . ...Earlier on I acknowledged everyone who has had a part i n making St. Winifred's School such a wonderful place. There is one aspect of the School's activity that I failed to mention but w h i c h I feel has made such an immense contribution to our community and whose focus is on creation rather than consumption. This is the St. Winifred's School pantomime. It is important that this annual activity be recognized and honored for what it truly is. This incredible undertaking creates a tremendous opportunity for young people to develop their talents and abilities and to perform before a live audience. It fosters discipline, and allows students to be entertained from within themselves. The pantomime also allows parents to be actively i n v o l v e d i n the school's program, w h i l e generating tremendous g o o d w i l l throughout the community. Many would say that it is too large an undertaking and too much work. Y e t , year after year the show goes on. (Sharon C a r m i c h a e l , 1995)  July 26 Try pastel ball dresses on senior chorus. How is it possible that the adults who wore these dresses in "Sleeping Beauty" were smaller than these young girls? It takes forever to fit the correct dress on each girl. Not only do we have to consider the size but the color and length must also be right. Louise also has the chorus already paired off so this also adds a further dimension. The girls are so keen to be in costume, they will suffer  42 any discomfort to avoid telling us the costume is too tight. We have to remind them how many times they have to dance in these outfits. Mrs. Lloyd has been helpful in taking rehearsals for the singing. She is new to the school and, as the singing teacher, has her hands full this term, preparing the school's choir for the seventy-fifth reunion church services. Her willingness to also act as a singing coach for the pantomime places her high on my list of favorite teachers at the school. Mrs. Lloyd valiantly tries to train the girls to sing the songs correctly. She favors the higher keys and the principals try their best but all sound like very bad sopranos. The villagers have also been tutored to sing high or low depending on whether they are playing boys or girls. I know these kids are not singers and I do not expect the songs to be perfect. I am happy for the girls to sing in a lower, more comfortable key as long as they are loud! Cinderella is especially having a hard time with her duet. She is overly conscious of her voice and is convinced she cannot sing her song. This is a mental block I am not sure we will overcome, so I must start to think of a back up plan.  Aug 12 At the tender age of five, the two little pages are a real handful. I sent home the script for them to learn and clearly they were taught the effective art of shouting their lines. Placing them on stage is like juggling mercury. Jonathan is not too bad but Rhett does not stop moving. I cannot get them to open their bodies to the audience so finally I tell Rhett he must always be one step in front of Jonathan so we can see him. Rhett is determined to stick next to Jonathan's side and Jonathan keeps stepping back until he is practically out the wing. After every scene Rhett asks if it is time for a break. Just don't give them any sweets or red frutee, please! I think that you are so brave to actually try to work with those two little boys. I was so impressed, I was amazed that you would actually think of doing something like that, and it paid off. (Sandy-Age 17)  43 Aug 19 I worry most because I am sleeping well and have some time to relax. This is most strange during a pantomime production. Last time I would have weeks where I could not sleep because I was thinking and planning for the show. Does this mean that I am less interested or just less scared of failure?  I am dreading the start of full cast weekend  rehearsals. I do not have full confidence in the direction I have given my principals. What was once a strong script and an extraordinary show, now seems like just another pantomime. With the exception of Buttons, every original character has been compromised to suit the personality and looks of the actor playing the part. Vastly comic characters have now become less interesting because these young actors have moderate experience or comic ability. Sue reminds me that I worried the same way about my principals for "Aladdin". "Remember how they came to life once they were in front of an audience?" I hope she is right.  A n n a was unparalleled i n her ability to draw out the best her performers. speak,  C h i l d r e n learnt,  act and dance.  sometimes  through  Our parents never questioned  and thanked her for the discipline.  tears, how her  W e adored her and  of  accepted  bananas!"  Anna She  to  methods  being referred to as " Y o u with the two left feet and arms like a bunch  from  is giving notes on the day's rehearsal. The juniors are crowded around her. takes a step back and they take a step forward. They want to be as close to her as possible. I smile. Nothing has changed.  44 . . . A teacher at St. Winifred's School, M i s s Adamira, is responsible for producing the pantomime shows, w h i c h , since they were first staged i n 1969, have made a name for that school as being, perhaps, the leading one i n the field of drama. ...She particularly likes teaching children although she admits that, when rehearsing for the pantomimes, she finds herself becoming very stern with them i n the effort of getting them to work as a team (Burrowes,1976:14).  The Baton Changes Hands "Robinson Crusoe" proved to be as successful as "Sleeping Beauty".  The tradition was reestablished, but history was to repeat  itself with the departure of M i s s A d a m i r a .  N o longer able to dedicate  the time needed to produce these extravaganzas, bowed  M i s s A d a m i r a again  out. ...Many students, who are now parents, wish pantomime to be continued. I am thrilled that A n n e M a r i e M c C o n n e y has the ability and the personality to pursue it. It is satisfying to see one's students carry on what was one's own work...I w i l l never miss a St. Winifred's pantomime. (Anna A d a m i r a ) Suddenly I understood what it meant to take Anna's place.  It  was not so much about having ideas, or blocking scenes, or designing costumes. assistant.  A l l of those disciplines I had experienced as Anna's The new part, the scary part,  responsibility for the show.  was accepting the  W o u l d the audience still come to see a  pantomime produced by someone  other  than A n n a A d a m i r a ?  The pantomime for Christmas 1995 w i l l be " A l a d d i n " . Hang on didn't we already ??? Y e s , we did. The last " A l a d d i n " was 23 years ago and since the writer of this " A l a d d i n " was only four years o l d at the time, this one w i l l be different.  45  The Team Grows Stronger  Aug 10 Naomi and Reissa come to help with the flower bushes for the wood scene. This was a project I had handed over to Liz and she subsequently enlisted Naomi and Reissa's help. I am always hesitant to ask cast members to give up additional time to help with props or costumes but they seem keen and will appreciate the whole process a lot more. Anna used to have us all decorating costumes and painting sets and we certainly never complained. On the contrary, we used to love being pulled out of lessons to cut out U V leaves and stick sequins. Kevin also shows up to lend support. He is on summer vacation and although he is excelling at the U.S. Naval Academy, he misses being involved in the pantomime. Although Kevin's busy social schedule hardly allows him the energy to accomplish any work on this early Saturday morning, his mere presence is a cheer and encouragement to all present. Kevin quizzes me on my special effects and especially wants to know how I will change Cinderella into her ball gown. I explain that Teisha will double for Cinderella in the dance and then switch places again to reveal Cinderella in her gown. The same switch will occur later as midnight strikes and Cinderella runs from the Ball in her rags. Kevin thinks the audience will notice the difference between the two girls and challenges me to pull off the switch. "Hey, if I can make a carpet fly..."  / can see DeVere trying not to laugh. Rob is explaining how we can get Aladdin's carpet to fly. He will drill a hole in the wall, then a cable may be run through pulleys and attached to the back of his pick up truck which will be parked outside. Given the cue, he will then drive his truck across the lawn, thereby raising the carpet. We just have to make sure that parking spot is left empty. I don't think so.  46 Aug 27 We paint throughout the days in an attempt to finish off the backdrops and set pieces before all cast rehearsals begin. Diana brings her daughter and friend, who are on holiday, to help paint. They are a welcome addition as they can paint with little supervision. Diana is meticulous in her detail and reminds her daughter, at home, to correct some of the vines she has painted - "I think AnneMarie said to highlight them in yellow not white, Debby. You'll have to change that tomorrow." The columns and staircase in the palace scene are impossible to get straight. Never mind no one will notice from a distance.  Aug 25 First all cast rehearsal. We run through Act One on Saturday and Act Two on Sunday. The cast are enjoying watching each other perform and cheer supportively at all the dances. Both principals and chorus get a boost with this new audience and perform at a high level. Everyone pitches in to help change set pieces and props. The show flows and it is a relief to see all the scenes working together. The cast will have the next week off and then start back school. We will not see them for two weeks. Louise and I hope they will remember all the dances and blocking. D u r i n g the summer, at first you have these dances and everything is new and exciting. Then by the end of summer when you've done as much as y o u can towards the i n d i v i d u a l dances w i t h the choruses, before the a l l cast rehearsals start, then you get tired. It's l i k e what now? ( N a o m i - A g e 16)  47  Halfway  There  Sept 8 Rehearsals resume again during the weekends only. The cast returns in full force with enthusiasm brimming. On the Friday night we rehearse the dances and polish any mistakes that have crept into the choreography. On the Saturday and Sunday we run through the entire show so everyone remembers the routine. They are amazingly accurate and we can now move ahead to tighten and clean the whole show. When you come back into term again, after the break, it is exciting because all the cast are together and there is a whole new set of things to work on...Then all cast rehearsals start to drag on again, and it starts to get monotonous, then you get dress rehearsals to break it up. (Naomi-Age 16)  We  are  halfway through the rehearsal process. The excitement is gone. Most of the big creative decisions have been made. The dances are choreographed and the scenes are blocked. Now I must polish the work and I do not know how.  Sept 15 We have borrowed microphones for this weekend's rehearsal so that the principals can learn some microphone technique. They are nervous about singing with microphones in front of the entire cast, especially Cinderella. I send the others outside for lunch while I work with her and Prince Charming. A stepsister stays to lend encouragement. I try a couple of other ways to do the song and finally decide to let the two principals speak their solo lines and then sing with the villagers for the chorus bits. The last two lines of the song are slow and without much musical accompaniment. We all cringe to hear them sing Then I discover that Prince Charming's mate, Dandidi, has a lovely voice. She sings the end of the song and the chorus just joins in for the final note. Not brilliant but it has many  48 ''hamrny'' dance moves during the song. It will work as the comedy piece I had intended it to be.  Anna The  children Even the  She  tells and  attends  one  of  my  rehearsals.  are so excited they can hardly youngest children know who she  perform. is.  them how much they look like their parents, shares stories of their pantomime days.  Anna "No,  watches and I can see the longing in her She wants to instruct the children. this is my rehearsal, Anna. Tell me, not the Anna  tells me I must replace my She is not funny enough.  face. children."  Dame.  "Comic timing cannot be learnt," she says, "You either have it or you don't. We also cannot hear what she is saying, her diction and projection are terrible." I  look  up  at the stage and see a frightened young girl. She can barely remember her lines because she knows Anna is talking about her. I  know there is truth in what Anna says, but I cannot abandon this child. She says I must, but I know I will not.  Sept 22 The set builders return before rehearsal on the Saturday to erect the backstage props' shelter. We debated whether we needed the shelter this year and decided with the carriage and larger props it would be useful to have them right offstage protected from the rain. Peter is back and grumbling about the fact that he will soon have to attend rehearsals and "there goes all of his time." He wants to know who are his crew and if they are responsible. "They are teenage boys, Peter. You have to teach them."  49 Louise takes some time to work on the finale walk down. It is not easy with seventy kids all on the stage at once. We are obviously being unreasonable in thinking that it is possible for them to restrain themselves from talking. Rhett still wants to know when he can take his break. One rehearsal I remember v i v i d l y . It was hysterical. Jonelle and me learning the w a l k down with L o u i s e . B o t h of us were standing up against the wings like this. W e were so exhausted and so miserable. Then from the time we heard our piece, smiles on and down the steps, and once the music stops you clap, and you c r a w l back into the wings and do the whole thing over again. W e must have done that 15 or 20 times. ( Z o e - A g e 16)  Becoming a Family Sept 22 On Sunday we take pictures for the program. The cast has been warned and they all arrive looking their best. The principals fix each other's hair, suggest different poses and are teased unmercifully by the chorus members. Teisha is sick but insists on staying just for the picture. The girls hug her protectively and we manage to take one shot before she has to run off to the bathroom. The eight senior dancers pose themselves and pull Lana into the shot. Lana has just returned from a summer dancing with "The Harlem Dance Company" and will now become the understudy for the seniors as well as the village chorus.  A big cake in the shape of Aladdin. birthday girl cuts the cake with her best friend, then blows out the candles. We all sing happy birthday. Even the bigger kids are anxiously reaching for cake. They are all laughing and sitting close together, the little ones on the laps of the principals. The  50 Sept 29 Reissa brings me an e-mail message she received from Kevin, at the Navel Academy. It is addressed to the entire cast and, as I read it aloud to them, I am touched by the strength of this young man's feelings towards the pantomimes. Dear Cast, I know each and every one of you is becoming unbelievably excited as opening night draws closer. Y o u should each be proud of a l l of your achievements thus far. Y o u are representing yourselves, your schools and St. Winifred's splendidly, through the use of your talents, to bring j o y and enlightenment to so many i n the Christmas season. Y o u are a l l a part of a large pantomime family that w i l l never abandon y o u . The hours you spend rehearsing and performing w i l l definitely be among your fondest memories. The friends you are making here w i l l i n one way or another be some of your closest friends in the years to come. I am just one of the many few who would give almost anything to be involved i n the pantomime right now and I know I can sincerely speak for them when I w i s h you the best of luck and the happiest of nights i n the long road ahead. T o the small ones, the junior chorus; you are the luckiest ones. Y o u have years of pantomime fun ahead of you. T o the other choruses, especially the seniors, you are the life and the blood of the production. Enjoy yourselves and never let the energy fall. T o the principals, a piece of your character w i l l remain with you forever so make each moment on stage the best it can be. T o the hard working backstage crew, lights and sound crew, costume producers, dressing r o o m ladies and assistants, hearty congratulations. The show w o u l d never be without each and every one of you. A n d finally, to you A n n e M a r i e , whose persistence and v i s i o n over the past two years have brought us all to this wonderful point. Y o u deserve every accolade and compliment for what I know w i l l without a doubt be an outstanding show. So to the entire "Cinderella" family, as you embark upon this blessed journey, as we say i n the N a v y , fair winds and f o l l o w i n g seas! K e v i n Simmons a.k.a "Captain Crossbones" & "The Genie of the L a m p "  51 Oct 5 The backstage arrive. The cast is thrilled that backstage has joined us. Not only will they be relieved of their duties moving props and set pieces but they also now have male entertainment during their breaks. Peter has paperwork ready for all the boys, detailing the changes and pieces for each scene. What a relief it is to see the organization and effort, quite the contrast to my last manager who insisted that,"Things will just work themselves out." /  am He  and  clashing  with  I  backstage  runs his crew as a thinks I am a young I  If  my  am  separate whipper  manager. entity snapper.  intimidated.  He is influencing the rest of his crew and making things difficult for me . I ask him to leave he will take others with Do we have time to train a new crew?  him.  cannot live with it, so I call him and discuss the situation I tell him that regardless of his personal opinion of me, he must respect my position as director, or he must leave. He decides to leave. The next weekend he Now he is my biggest  is back. supporter.  E v e n i f they are people that y o u don't really like y o u have to work with them. There's no point having animosity because it makes it a lot harder. ( K a y a - A g e 17)  Oct 12 Louise has agreed to take the rehearsal for Saturday night. The cast teases me about skipping a rehearsal but this is one night I must miss. M y family would probably disown me if I missed my cousin's wedding and I am aware of the significance of this event for Uncle David. Everyone feels this will be his last big farewell bang and my priorities must live with family for this night.  52  7. FINISHING TOUCHES  Oct 13 Patrick has managed to persuade Peter to let him have the carriage to finish. No matter how busy, Peter refuses to delegate prop work to other parents. I can relate to this need to do it all yourself because my mother and I suffer from the same problem.  I go  over and help wind Christmas lights around all the struts. Patrick has gotten someone to instruct us how to join the light strands together so they can operate all together off a battery at the back of the carriage. We have finally decided on the appearance of the carriage. We will distract the audience with an air burst and black out while simultaneously opening the traverse curtain and illuminating the carriage.  Lights...  Oct 14 We set up two levels of scaffolding to hang one new lamp. The stage left side stage is too dim and cannot be covered by the spotlight. There is an extra cable running through the roof, but where it ends is anyone's guess. I locate one end of the cable, by the dimmer pack, then trace the cable through the roof to find the other end that will plug into the lamp. We make the connections and try our luck. Of course, it is the wrong cable but by chance the next cable I plug in operates the new lamp.  Oct 17 As we paint into the night we suddenly hear a loud bang in the direction of the lighting room. The batons overhead go dark and as I race upstairs I pray that it is not the dimmer pack. There is a faint smell of smoke in the air but no damage is visable to the eye. The pack will not power back up. Not a good sign.  53  We A  connection Can  OK!  Send  don't  within anyone  Help! need the in  Make your it to Strand  this  dimmer Barbados  now! pack has fix it?  decision fast. in Toronto to be  blown.  repaired.  Unbolt the 90 pound pack from the wall, box it and get it on the 5pm flight. Clear it through customs and find someone to take it. I see a distant relative! They are next in line, talk fast. It's over the weight limit - Please, it's for a school! Who will receive Richard lives in  it on the other Toronto, he will  end? help!  T o the Cast and Crew o f A l a d d i n , W e think o f St. Winifred's often with fond memories, not only o f the time spent working on props and backstage, etc., but o f the fantastic group o f people w h o rally together for the cause o f improving the school. W e are sorry that we are unable to participate i n this year's production but we are thinking o f y o u nonetheless. W i t h warm regards, Richard and Cathie Dear Jim, ...Needless to say our rehearsals are suffering without the proper lighting, and as our dress rehearsal looms closer this coming weekend, we all wait with baited breath for the return of our pack. As I explained to you this dimmer pack was a significant purchase for a small school and one that was greatly deliberated. We decided to go with the Strand CD80 because we were told it was very dependable. We went to further lengths, flying down a technician from a theatre in Canada in order to properly install it. To have to deal with this problem only two years after purchase is very distressing. St. Winifred's School would be more than grateful for any consideration you can give to our situation. Yours sincerely, AnneMarie McConney  54  Costumes...  Oct 25 First Dress rehearsal. Kids are excited to be in costume. Focus goes out the window but energy and spirits are high. The 1st half costumes are spectacular. The 2nd half costumes are not quite as stunning, only because some of the costumes are repeated from the 1st half. The Finale Ball costumes are definitely dull and something must be done to improve them.  T o be able to watch if, l i k e when we had the dress rehearsal, it was real interesting, because it was l i k e , ' W o w , this is what I'm a part of!' ( K a y a - A g e 17) Oct 26 Now try to get the costumes dressed on the kids correctly. Some major pieces are still missing and many are needed to practice the fast changes.  First  time on stage with the Everyone is excited.  costumes.  "It's harder to kick our legs up now." We'll run the dance in costume. "Keep going, You look fantastic!" Penny's genie pants fall down. Everyone collapses into laughter. is 5 minutes before we can restore order.  It "This  "You They  is the best 'walk down' we have ever had. If I play the Christmas song after, it will pull the energy right back down! It will destroy the final moment." I explain over and over again. must have the Christmas song. It is tradition."  sit  on and  the verandah, partially clad in costumes. They gossip and tell jokes the junior chorus try to join in.  55  Just Having Fun with my Friends Oct 27 What is the point of trying to rehearse anymore? Give them a costume and all they want to do is run the show. I promise the next Sunday off if they concentrate and clean up the scenes and dances today. They would rather play volleyball outside in between calls. To them this is a big social event and canceling a rehearsal is a threat not a reward. After pantomime people who were our total enemies at school are now like your really good friend. (Natasha-Age 7) It is not just that you get to make new friends but you know your o l d friends better. ( K i r a L e e - A g e 14) I know a person who, a l l she has to do is see somebody and immediately - ' M a n , I don't like her blah, blah, blah.' W h e n you are made to work i n a situation with them... she has made so many friends, I mean lasting friendships. W i t h the same people that she used to talk bad about. (Rachel-Age 15) I remember after 'Aladdin', Rachel looked at me and said, ' Y o u know K a y a , I had never met you, I had never spoken to you before, but I absolutely hated you. I am so glad that I got to know you.' A n d like we are really, really close, ever since then. I'd rather you dislike me for k n o w i n g me, than not k n o w me and still dislike me. ( K a y a - A g e 17)  Oct 31 Julia suggests trimming the Finale ball dresses with pink frills and flowers. This may be just what they need but a little more than we expected to be doing at this point. Mum works like a dog, never resting. Liz joins me to help make mushroom headdresses, then we take the costumes down to the school to continue decorating. We sit on the floor and the senior girls float in and out during their free lessons to help glue sequins.  56  Action  Nov 3 Dear Sue, We had an interesting dress rehearsal weekend. On Friday night Buttons was sick so his understudy went on and did her own part as well. She's a 13 year old girl who is the most naturally talented actor of the bunch, but was too small for any big parts. She plays a small role as one of the debt collectors: Kash and Karry. She was swamped in Button's costume but performed both parts commendably well. (Mum was worried she'd have a nervous breakdown from all the fast changes back and forth.) I didn't want her understudy to replace her because I didn't think she was strong and I wanted a good rehearsal. I needn't have worried because the entire cast was very weak. Their energy was low and dances looked scrappy. I was incredibly depressed because I had given them a big pep talk and promised Sunday off if the dress runs were good.  At  Encourage them, don't be too hard, what point do you stop encouraging and lay it on the line. This has to be the point.  Saturday night I didn't think could get worse but it threatened to prove me wrong. Instead of one principal sick, I had two down plus a few out of the choruses. Never have I done a show with so many cast members sick! Natasha had to replace Buttons again and I could not ask her again to do two parts, so I had to put in her understudy as well, that meant three principals replaced. To add to the confusion both Natasha and the other understudy had been involved in an accident the Friday night after they left rehearsal. The two kids and the mum all came  57 to the Saturday rehearsal because they thought it best to continue as usual. The mum was the most shaken of course. The kids told me they were OK, so they went on. Meanwhile one of my stepsisters had an aunt die the night before, so she was also feeling upset. I felt as if we were being dumped on from all over.  The show goes on. The understudies do a fabulous job and the choruses pull together in support. Even the fill in dancers are great. Is this what it takes for them to pull together. You are brilliant! SUNDAY WE CAN HAVE A DAY OFF.  There comes a point when y o u have to sit back and say that's enough, there's no more that we can do. The only thing that can come now w i l l be the audience. ( N a o m i - A g e 16)  Nov 8 - Speech Night I don't think Lana expected to be filling in quite so early in the run of the show. Since the Speech Night performance is only a preview consisting of Scene One, she has just one dance to learn. I am glad that the situation has presented itself sooner than later because she is now forced to take her role seriously. The other understudies are also reminded to look over their script and practice dance routines. Our opening was not quite as spectacular as I know it can be. The music was a bit too "bassy" and not clear. Chorus and backstage alike were over anxious at the beginning. As a result the fog was early and the fairies, with their candles, walked through the audience so fast, they had to pause before getting onstage. The dance settled as it progressed and the opening scene was received with thunderous applause.  58 The school kids went wild as each principal made their entrance, but it was more in response to the recognition of the actor as one of their friends. Nevertheless, the laughter and applause did a world of good for the principals. Their overall performance was outstanding. Every character projected clearly and paused like professionals for their laughs. I was so incredibly proud of them. The entire cast got a great boost from that short performance in front of the audience. It just gave you that energy. E v e n those that weren't i n v o l v e d i n Speech Night, like Zoe. For me to go back and say, 'Zoe this show is going to be fantastic, the audience is going to love it,' gave Zoe that extra little bit of...you know, ' O K , now I have to perform, I have to see for myself what it's going to be like.' ( N a o m i - A g e 16) I never expected it to feel like that the first time that I was on. The people a l l there, the reactions and everything it was like ' W o w ! ' (Tina-Age 13) I must compliment my cast members who received prizes, before the entertainment, on Speech Night. I was very aware of how many prize winners were also in the show.  Nov 9 - Charity Show The senior chorus arrive early to teach Lana the ballroom dances. The cast is in an overall state of high energy, boosted by the Speech Night preview and eager to test the entire show on this first public audience. I have warned them again that the reactions at this Charity Show may be slightly unusual. The performance started twenty minutes late as we were forced to wait for buses to arrive from the child care homes. Audience talked throughout the performance as expected but seemed to enjoy it immensely. Laughed at most of the jokes, sometimes so much so that the flow of the scene was disrupted. The principals perform beyond my expectations. Characters come to life as if by magic and even the most inexperienced of the principals perform like seasoned  59 professionals. The Choruses as well, look clean and sharp in their dances. They all radiate energy and enjoyment and I cannot be any prouder. During intermission the children in the audience gather around to meet Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother. Kaya shows them her wand and thanks them for shouting so loudly and helping to make her spells work. She asks them if they would like to touch the wand and they reach out in awe to stroke it gently. Y o u are performing on stage and you are making other people happy.  Just to watch the brightness come upon the people, like  the charity show, that gave you energy. ( G eor gina- A ge 14)  The St. Winifred's School Pantomime 'Cinderella' promises to be a smash hit! Invited guests from various 'child care' and retirement homes were treated last Saturday night to a special sneak preview of this year's Christmas extravaganza. ... A l l the performers are obviously enjoying themselves on stage and this is reflected i n the positive response of the audience. The dance routines are excellent and there is some very innovative use of props...check out the village girls' trays. Part of the production's success must be attributed to the stage design. The sets and costumes are incredible, with shapes and colours that create one spectacle after another... The backstage crew must also be commended, for a wonderful j o b getting the many sets and costume changes achieved q u i c k l y and quietly. The long months of rehearsals and the tremendous support of parents and helpers have paid off. C i n d e r e l l a is great entertainment for the whole family. F o r the performers, it was clear that the laughter and applause made it a l l worthwhile ( A l l e n , 1996:7).  60  Camelot Revisited  Dear Sue, I am not sure i f M o m is just working hard or having a good time. E v e r y time she tells me how hard she is w o r k i n g I remind her that she is having a good time. She has encouraged many of the past students to contact as many others as they can think of and this has created a lot of excitement. She expects some 400 past students to attend the Reunion Pantomime G a l a on November 15. They are coming from far and wide even from as far away as U K , N e w Zealand and Australia. Quite a few from the U S and Canada as w e l l . Love, Dad Nov 13 - Reunion Harbour Master Cruise A l l the events planned for the 75th reunion have been a huge success and this evening cruise is predictably well attended. Even Anna has shown up for the occasion. It is inevitable that all the old pantomime girls would eventually get together and begin to rehash all the old Pantomime stories. Remember when... -I had to fill in for Christine. Anna stood behind the traverse and fed me all the lines. -And then Anna had to strap her chest down to wear Desiree's costume. -Christine performed all the other shows with a cast and on crutches. -Anna made me leave my own brother's wedding early. -Andrew had all the birds held up in the dressing room tent, holding up the zipper. -Who was it that kicked that shoe into the audience? Anna told us it made it to row H . -I never cried so many tears as back then. -When you cried you made it good because you knew you had to be back on in 20 minutes. -Bev dropped her petticoat, stepped out of it and continued dancing without missing a beat. -Remember Hazel stitching up the zipper as the actor stood with her back to the wing. -And Anna yelling at the backstage "I asked for snow not a blizzard!" -The night the rainbow fell over those juniors didn't even blink. -Peta had to physically carry Gina offstage because she was so sick. -And those young Babes made up new lines on the spot, to suit the situation. -Lauren fainting constantly and us using smelling salts not knowing that she was a diabetic.  61 The stories continue as I listen silently. I am younger than these girls and I was in the junior chorus when they were principals. I know the stories but I cannot share in all of them. It is fun at first but then becomes depressing. Is it because I feel left out? Will I ever experience my performers reminiscing like this years from now? Have I made an impact in their lives as Anna did in ours? Also there is something there under the surface - a challenge - that my shows can never be like hers, never as good, never as strong, never as memorable. Is it my imagination?  62  8. T H E P E R F O R M A N C E T A K E S O F F  It  The For  I  is  the  Gala  Opening.  The house is full. children gather for our pre-show notes and prayer. the first time I repeat the prayer that Anna has said at every previous St. Winifred's School pantomime. I have asked her if I may use it. I stand on the steps with my mother beside me, in the same place she stood for Anna. A standing ovation! into the headset to be heard above the audience. am telling them to open the curtain again. Five curtain calls and I can't stop smiling. I am so proud of the children I could burst. I am so relieved.  shout I  Anna  sits with the Governor General as an honored guest. She joins us afterwards and she is so gracious. She tells me she can hardly recognize the Dame, she has come so far. I  thank  her.  F i v e curtain calls and a thunderous standing ovation from an enraptured audience crowned Saturday's opening G a l a performance o f ' A l a d d i n ' at St. Winifred's School. ' A l a d d i n ' is produced and directed by A n n e M a r i e M c C o n n e y who also wrote the script and together with H a z e l M c C o n n e y designed the breath-takingly beautiful costumes. This multi-talented former St. Winifred's student and teacher has succeeded i n extracting from her young theatrical charges focused excellence while at the same time g i v i n g them full rein to have fun on stage. There was a m o v i n g moment just before the curtain went up Saturday night when the young cast, as nervous as they were excited, gathered just outside the hall to say a prayer before going on stage. 'This is what you've been working for a l l these months,' M c C o n n e y told her cast. 'Stay focused and have fun.' Then there was a soft prayer, and good luck wishes as the children scampered to take their places (Dear, 1994:16).  63 Flowers and Fears  I was really excited the whole day at school. I was just d i l l y d a l l y i n g around. (Natasha-Age 7) Nov 15 Dear Sue, Many thanks for the flowers you sent for our Reunion Gala last night. One of the little fairies presented them to me after the prayer. That moment turned out to be the highlight of the night for me, because I was not that pleased with the show itself. We started off well, because our opening is very strong, but throughout the first half the audience seemed particularly quiet. They were laughing at the jokes but nothing like what we had experienced at Speech Night or the Charity show. They would not respond to any of the audience participation bits. Some of the principals forgot a few lines, more than normal, but they covered and in general did a good job. The Choruses were trying really hard and performing well, especially the little juniors but somehow it seemed as if they were in an empty room. The worse moment of the night came in the change before the last scene of Act One. Kash and Karry were doing their bit in front of the tabs while backstage were doing their fastest and hardest change of the night. Over the headset came " AnneMarie we have a serious problem with the backdrop." I felt as if I was in Apollo 13! I told Janine to hold the music and rushed down backstage. One of the pulleys on the backdrop had broken and it is practically impossible to get a backdrop of that weight up on only two ropes. I must say the backstage crew did a commendable job. Nix somehow got it up with Danny on Andrew's shoulders pushing the loose end up. Peter rushed up into the ceiling, smashing his head on the roof in the process, and grabbed the backdrop from above, pulling it up the rest of the way and hooking the hook back on. Meanwhile we had black for about two minutes, seemed like an eternity to me. Janine started the music the second it was up and  64 the curtains opened to a crooked backdrop. One of the little pages that come on to deliver the invitation to Cinderella was so interested in what was going on in the ceiling that he had to be practically thrown on stage by one of the backstage boys! As you can imagine my spirits were not what you would call high at intermission. I was so embarrassed I didn't want to see anyone in the audience, but I still had to go and encourage the cast. H i Anne M a r i e , I figure all of your worries are the normal 'it's so bad' when we a l l know it w i l l be fantastic as always. So once again I have attributed your comments to your over critical nature rather than to the quality of the show !!! Sue P S . A s k M u m i f she remembered to send flowers to U n c l e D a v i d and Aunt R o z for me. The second half was better, probably because the audience drank and ate everything at the bar, so they were more receptive. Still those little pages managed to mess up their lines so much in one scene, the other principals didn't know what to do. They only got away with it because they are so little and cute the audience love to see them mess up. The whole show had the overall feel of a second show. For some reason this year, the Charity show was very much our opening, and second shows are notoriously bad. I didn't really want to see anyone at the reception after but those who did see me were very complimentary. Needless to say I was not in the right frame of mind to believe them. With "Aladdin" I felt sure it was good; with this one I don't feel confident at all. The Charity show felt fine but this opening I felt bombed. The worst part is I can't figure out what went wrong or how to correct it. I know the script is strong and the jokes are good, so I'm wondering if our visual impact in the dances is not as spectacular as last time. ...Last Sunday we took the grands to the St. Winifred's presentation of A l a d d i n . The student pantomime was short of delectable. Past student A n n e - M a r i e M c C o n n e y , producer of show of singing, dancing and a kaleidoscope of colours,  School nothing the can be  65 faulted for very little. Y o u cannot say the pantomime is too goody-goody; it is functionally tasteful and titillating. A n d , unlike what is too often the case with childrens' stage productions, one could not accuse A n n e - M a r i e of a too rigidly rehearsed thing...It should be pointed out here that this is the first time a past student of the school itself w o u l d have produced the pantomime i n its 25 years or so of presentations. There has been some small talk though about A l a d d i n and similar offerings having no relevance beyond the children and the school themselves - primarily from those critics who have not taken the trouble to go and see these highly enjoyable student productions, particularly the current one. Too often I am being forced to ask why is it that mostly old, good, clean fun is subjected to these offensive criteria, when the more 'mature work' of older stagehands is judged highly 'on its merits' - for a l l its tiredness and vulgarity. A l l the reason why our very talented youth, fresh and unspoiled, must be spared the unnecessary dissecting. Instead, being only critically supportive, we must help put the skills of our young to good use. A l a d d i n is but one example of the great talent that lies with our Barbadian youth, just waiting for the opportunity to present itself. I salute A n n e - M a r i e , Annalise and the rest of the cast of A l a d d i n (Seale, 1994:11).  Nov 19 Dear Sue, Audrey came and worked with the kids to polish a few of their songs. I think she finally realizes what we were up against. Before, she all but guaranteed me that she could fix them in one rehearsal, but after she admitted that she wasn't sure if they were any better. I think she did help a bit. Her energy is great and she works quite well with the kids. She complimented them all the time and made her corrections in between the compliments (I told her I was worried about shaking their confidence.) She called me after to check that she hadn't overstepped her bounds. I told her I was grateful for the help and wished I could have involved her earlier. She then wanted to know if we could have another full rehearsal! I told her I did not think so. She also said  66 she was sorry she had not jumped in three months ago. It's interesting because she sees where we are now and knows how much farther it could go. I also know how much better we could be, but remember where we came from too. I told her I had to be satisfied with how much the kids have progressed and trust that notes and experience will improve them along the way. I cannot ask them to give more time now, especially with three shows a week. I was quite clear about her not giving notes to the cast and she understood, so we'll just have to hope that she can resist the impulse to jump into everything. Needless to say I'm trying to think of a way now to light a bomb under the cast, to get their energy up for the second Gala performance. Bye for now, AnneMarie  Dear M r s . B i n k s , The evening on Saturday was most enjoyable. was very professionally produced and acted. yous' to a l l of those involved.  "Aladdin"  M y sincere  'thank  The programme w h i c h I spent  some time reading shows what a large number it takes to achieve the excellency which we saw.  I would like them a l l to  know that they have my gratitude and admiration as w e l l sincere thanks for the production. the young actors and actresses.  as  N o t the least of these are  Barbados certainly has a  talented group w h o m you are preparing for the future of the arts.  Y o u r s sincerely, Dame N i t a Barrow, Governor General  Nov 22 - Gala Opening Cookies and candies in the dressing rooms to hype up the kids again for this second Opening Gala. I was worried that this audience, with the Governor General present, would be a bit stiff, but surprisingly enough they were very receptive. They applauded the opening when the little fairy climbed out of the book, and continued to show their appreciation as each new scene was revealed.  67 The little pages forgot their lines again but that only prompted more laughter from the audience. The Chariots of Fire race had them almost rolling in the aisles. As the curtains closed on the final number the audience stomped on the platforms and demanded three curtain calls. Afterwards, compliments flowed like wine and the only negative comment was that they missed the singing of the Christmas song. The Governor General wanted to know how we managed to change Cinderella into her ball dress so quickly. Mrs. Binks surprized and amused me by stating that she thought the change was getting faster. After watching so many rehearsals I thought she would have discovered the switch by now.  It was difficult to tell who enjoyed the St. Winifred's Pantomime 'Cinderella' more - the adults or the children - as scene after scene was met with thunderous applause and j o y f u l laughter by everyone i n attendance. A t the G a l a showing last Friday evening w h i c h was also attended by Governor General, S i r C l i f f o r d Husbands and L a d y Husbands, an energized cast gave sterling performances much to the delight of the audience. The A n n e M a r i e M c C o n n e y - production was filled with surprise after surprise as she not only employed clever writing, but top notch stunt skills as w e l l . For example, the transformation of the p u m p k i n into a coach is a vital element of the fairy tale. Other than to draw the curtain or hypnotize the audience, how does one p u l l it off without missing a beat? W i t h perfect timing and ingenuity, that's h o w ! Another thoughtful trick was Cinderella's o w n transformation out of her rags and into a magnificent ball gown... (Smith, 1996:32).  68  There Go My Babies Nov 23 Reminded the villagers that they must warm up their voices as well as their bodies before every show. The volume and energy of their opening song set the tone for the first scene. These girls are inexperienced performers and are also at a very self-conscious age. They find it difficult to believe that getting it right is less important than making it big. The cast take a vote at the pre-show prayer and decide almost unanimously to sing the Christmas Song at the end of each show. We sang the song at the Reunion Gala because I thought the old girls would be appreciative. I was hoping to then wait until midDecember before starting to sing it again but these performers have decided otherwise.  What is it about this Christmas Song?  W e have sung this song  at the end of every St. Winifred's pantomime and continue to do so even though the words are inappropriate for our Barbados  climate  and culture - "To hear the Sleigh bells ringing soft and clear"?  During  the production of "Sleeping Beauty" when a recorded version of the Christmas Song could no longer be found, A n n a suggested we sing a different carol.  W e o l d girls practically mutinied.  So committed  were we to staying true to tradition that we arranged to do a new recording of the song ourselves.  W e spent an entire night locked i n a  studio with one of our old musicians until we were satisfied that our new version was true to the o l d . N o w these younger performers continues.  demand  also that the  tradition  I who fought against A n n a to continue the song, now fight  against my performers to let it go.  A n d I have to bow to their  69 demands.  Regardless of how inappropriate, badly sung, or energy  draining it is, it is tradition.  Nov 24 A quiet audience but a strong performance by the cast. Sunday matinees are filled with very young children who do not necessarily respond with laughter and applause but rather with open mouthed amazement. Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother decide they would like to meet the kids during intermission at every Sunday Matinee. Given a chance the entire cast would like to be out there mingling with the audience but I have to draw the line somewhere. Y o u know what was amazing? These little children who actually believe that Cinderella is i n Barbados, at this school. It's just like absolutely amazing and lovely to see their faces. ( K i r a L e e - A g e 14) B y the time you are like 17, 18, you've seen a l l the tricks. Y o u are like, 'Right, the pumkin is going to be pulled up.' B u t little children still believe i n magic. It gives you a nice feeling inside to know that somebody still believes i n a l l this. ( N a o m i - A g e 16) When I came out at intermission it was like, ' H o w did you do that?' I'd be like, ' W e l l , you a l l helped me. Once you believe i n magic, that's how it happens.' Hopefully i f they remember anything about the pantomime they w i l l remember magic. E v e n later on when they don't believe i n magic anymore. ( K a y a - A g e 17) Nov 29 The dances are looking clean and it is evident that the cast is gaining more confidence with each show. Rehearsed the pages before the show and they got their lines right this time.  70  Cinderella  races across the yard to find her ball dress. is not backstage where it should be. All hands on deck as costumes fly. She races back across the yard, the ladies run behind with her tiara and shoes. She makes the switch and no one is the wiser. Cinderella's smile is even wider tonight. It  Nieltje's skirt falls off. Thank goodness for matching many times have they been told to  How  We  panties. use safety  pins!  a thinner nylon string for the pumpkin. The other one was too visible. Don't forget to test it before the show. Five minutes before the pumpkin has to fly backstage discovers they can't lift it. Get Nix and his hard hands, Nix flies that baby.  then  use  One of the little mice has noticed. The audience was starting to stand for an ovation the Christmas Song started to play so they sat back AH HA ! There is method to my madness!  down.  Maintaining Focus and Energy Nov 30 A smallish audience but very appreciative. The cast were doing their best show until I complimented them all at intermission and seemed to jinx them. Rachel started with the wrong chorus in her song and could not rescue it back. Loss of focus or what? She was very upset afterwards and cried. The Stepmother cheered her up before the next scene by showering her with rude jokes. At least her crude humour is good for something.  All  o f us  two  o f them half  words.  on stage were k i l l i n g laughing, half  M a r i a m a was  laughing  or what but  was  gone again.  w i t h laughter, and  trying to think up a l i n e , trying to  and I don't k n o w i f she focus  ourselves  c r y i n g s t i l l t r y i n g to think  saw people on the  she  c o u l d not  get  ( N a o m i - A g e 16)  the  side o f the line out  focus,  stage  and  the  up  her  7 1  It was amazing how that affected the entire scene, it really d i d because after that we were so off. ( P e n n y - A g e 14)  Dec 1 Sold out house, including eleven extra seats put in. Lots of children so the audience noise was significant. Quite a clean show but lacking a bit of energy. Pages did a clean run but surprisingly enough Dandini dried up in the middle of a scene. This is unusual because Sandy is generally the most focused of the whole bunch. Y o u ' r e focusing on what they are saying but suddenly y o u ' l l catch something like a bead of sweat on their forehead and y o u ' l l get so i n v o l v e d i n this bead of sweat...and a l l of a sudden it's l i k e your turn to speak. (Sandy-Age 17) Dec 4 Many cast members feeling sick. Morgan had to fill in for Ghislaine again and I wonder if her nausea is a result of stress rather than stomach flu. Ghislaine never reacted to the recent loss of her mother and this may be a delayed response. Her chorus members have been asked to be as supportive as possible. Kaya is also struggling with a combination of tonsillitis and gastroenteritis. Between pantomime, school, karate and her busy social life, she has been going non stop since we began rehearsals. She really needs to take some time to rest and recover but she refuses to curtail any of her activities. Decided to ease her up a bit by performing as the godmother in disguise. Managed to get through the scene even though I had to ad lib a few lines. Cinderella was quite amused but I don't think the audience noticed. Kaya managed to make it through the rest of the performance but you could hear she was struggling with her voice. Besides battling various illnesses, there is an overall feeling of the cast fooling around, possibly over confidence mixed with the celebration of the last week of school. Peter commented that backstage is also getting sloppy and tonight I could hear many of the  72 changes. Now is the time when they must leam to perform consistently well, even after the initial excitement of opening has died down. Dec  6  Had to start the music for Janine who was working late so Penny had to fill in for Kaya as the disguised godmother. Penny was so nervous that she was physically shaking. I know how she feels and must give her even more credit for performing in spite of her fears. I am always impressed by the understudies, jumping at the opportunity to take on a relatively unrehearsed role. Sometimes i n the wings you think, 'I can't remember what I am doing!' but as soon as you hear the music and you get on stage, it's routine. ( K i r a Lee - A g e 14) B u t the funny thing is that some nights you're doing fine, no nerves, w e l l obviously just that little bit, but a l l of a sudden one night, i n the middle of a performance you just start freaking out, and you're really, really nervous, and you've never been that nervous before. ( N a o m i - A g e 16)  The Stepmother was also sick with some stomach flu but managed to make it through the night by running back and forth to the bathroom.  Morgan filled in for  Ghislaine again. Complimented the pantomime girls for racking in the prizes at the end of term. Teisha came third in class and her mother says it is because of the pantomime, that all she had time for was studying and rehearsals.  73 Dec 7 Ghislaine returned to perform, much to Morgan's dismay because her Gran was in the audience. Kay a also said she did not need any fill ins but I could still hear she was having trouble with her voice. The pages did a good job. They missed some lines but only because the other principals, who now expect them to forget, jumped the gun and spoke over them. I just got to a point where y o u knew they were going to say one of three things so y o u made up responses for each of those things. B u t when they said it right y o u w o u l d be l i k e , ' O h my god what's the real line?' After a while they got it perfect anyway so we didn't really have to worry. ( Z o e - A g e 16)  Louise watched the show and although the audience was very responsive, she did not seem too enthusiastic and mentioned that the energy of the choruses was lacking. This is always the biggest problem in the run of a pantomime, maintaining the energy and keeping the scenes looking fresh. I feel I cannot expect much more from the villagers but the senior chorus should know better than to just go through the motions on stage. Louise suggested talking to Naomi and Ayesha and getting them to pick up the energy. The others may follow their lead. If you're i n a dressing r o o m and you're d o w n and  everyone  else starts getting d o w n as w e l l , then when y o u come on stage it so hard to bring it up.  B u t other times l i k e i f you're down  and everybody else around y o u is bubbly and stuff really  be miserable round everybody else  to bring it up a little bit.  ( N a o m i - A g e 16)  then  y o u can't  that just  starts  74  Success and Confidence Turning into Fun  Dec 8 Good audience and a good show. Rachel, as the stepsister, has taken her performance up a notch again and continues to amaze me. Is this the same Dame from "Aladdin" that Anna insisted I replace? Originally I worried that Mariama, with her natural flair for comedy, would be the dominant stepsister and overshadow Rachel. This has certainly not been the case. Rachel continues to improve and together they compliment each other and perform at a consistently high level. The Major Domo is also doing well. Never having performed on stage before, he astonishes me with subtle changes to his character each night. Cinderella continues to exude the energy and confidence she discovered from the first night she stood in front of an audience. Buttons is working his audience with the natural comic talent that has made him a favorite through four pantomimes. Renee, as the Stepmother longs to share in the laughter and tries her best to drag some comedy into her evil character. Fortunately, for the show, her physical size and presence do not allow her to be anything but appropriately intimidating. In the end it is still those little pages that rack in most of the applause and it is incredible to realize that they steal the show from the stepsisters. I think that the four week run was a good length o f time. If y o u compare how we were when we first started performing and how we ended up...it's such a b i g difference. E v e n people who went to the G a l a then went to the last night, l i k e d it towards the ending. It's a huge improvement. Y o u can't really improve that m u c h i n any shorter period of time. ( K a y a - A g e l 7 )  75 Dec 11 After three days spent visiting the hospital and the final passing of Uncle David, it is difficult to present a cheerful front. The cast and crew are supportive and it is comforting to be around this group. Backstage are doing well. I don't have to worry about them this year. The dressing rooms also are being kept tidy and neat, everyone doing their part. I w o u l d have a horrible, horrible week but the minute I came on stage it just changes, it totally changes, you know it just really made you feel good. I don't know w h y that happened but that happened to me quite a few times. ( P e n n y - A g e 14) Dec 13 Found out after the show that fast change dressers were scarce tonight. I could have easily helped but I think they looked at it as a challenge. Sara Jane slipped in the Finale number and fell flat on her face. She had a hard time keeping that smile on her face throughout the walk down but managed to save her tears untill she got offstage. The chorus flocked around her to lend comfort and support, telling stories of their own mishaps to ease her embarrassment.  The Stepsisters enter radiantly in their overbearing ball gowns. Rachel gives Rhett a little nudge to move him out of the way. OOPS...he nearly fell down the stairs.  He  Where's the Major Domo? to introduce Prince Charming to The Prince pauses for a second, then introduces himself.  has  Cinderella  Cinderella.  dancing elegantly with her Prince... until she breaks a heel . She starts to tumble down the stairs, One of the chorus catches her at the bottom.  The  is  Seven mushrooms dance instead of eight. missing mushroom is reading in the dressing she didn't hear the call.  The He  One of the little pages is in tears. other will just have to do his lines as well. What's wrong? did not get his ham cutter at intermission. Please,  no  hands  near  noses  onstage.  room,  77 Dec 14 Excellent show! Good energy probably prompted by a great audience. The junior chorus especially impresses me with their unwavering enthusiasm. I meet them in the breezeway before one of their dances and am nearly knocked over with hugs. They insist that I check their hair, headdresses and zippers. Emma announces proudly that I am her real cousin. She has only recently discovered this. The others want to know if this is true, and Emma adds that she is going to grow up just like me.  Keeping Discipline  Dec 15 High spirits but a bit sloppy onstage. Lots of stuff dropped onstage. Mugs from the village dance, laundry from the mice dance, hats dropping, etc. The Stepmother is entertaining herself by standing in the wings and mooning the stepsisters who are performing onstage. Her sense of humour is not appreciated by the backstage crew and I have to remind her to set an example for the younger cast members. I will have to watch her on the last night.  Dec 18 Liz greets me at intermission with bottle in hand and boasts that she has had three beers. I believe her performance especially with the rest of backstage playing supporting characters. I make my way over to her side during the second half. She has to cue the little pages and I am worried that she will mess up. After the show I am informed that the bottle was filled with water and I have been had. Who would have thought that Liz could act so well!  78 Dec 21 A lovely night filled with good times. Anne brought little baskets of soap for the principals in her dressing room. Other rooms were also having their own parties. The juniors exchanged gifts and the villagers received a carnation from their dressers. The hall is packed beyond capacity and I beg Maureen not to squeeze in any more chairs. The cast is high on excitement during this last weekend. Dear M r s . B i n k s , W e were privileged to attend the second last 1996 presentation of 'Cinderella' by your St. Winifred's School. We were amazed and thoroughly delighted with the high quality of the show. The choreography, costume design, lighting, special effects were produced at a professional level. W e were particularly impressed by the enthusiasm, talent, expression and dedication to excellence displayed by the students. It was one of the most enjoyable Pantomimes that my wife and I have ever attended. Congratulations. Joan & B i l l Deyell, Canada  Laughter and Tears Dec 22 - Closing Night Flowers are in the senior and villagers' dressing rooms. The juniors will get a "pifiata" afterwards and the principals will receive flowers on stage. The energy is terrific and I must watch that they do not get carried away with tricks. Before the prayer I remind them to clean up the dressing rooms before they go on to the party. M y mother and I receive gifts, a Cinderella figurine and a glass slipper. I present the Academy Awards and lead the prayer for the last time.  79  The  villagers and  It  rains  the first time during our run, not tonight, The principals shout to be heard as the ushers move in to close windows. The rain subsides. will not have to relay the cast with umbrellas  volume.  for  We  Backstage  enter and sing at twice their normal I watch them from the Hall door I wonder if they can see me smiling.  The tricks are tame so far, I'd better go check. is packed with cast members, something is A gorilla in the wood is not that funny.  please!  .  brewing.  Second half is more inspired. Chippendales and party crashers at the Ball, Kevin and Bucket are fabulous in their guest appearances from "Aladdin".  join  Backstage us onstage  crew and dressers for the Christmas Song.  The audience sings along. curtain calls and the seniors are in tears. Back in the dressing rooms the juniors are sobbing their hearts out. I hug them all.  Four  The sad thing about the pantomime ending is because I get closer to a lot o f people and then when pantomime is done I think that I may never see them again. (Zoe-Age 16) Y o u do become like a family. I mean y o u see each other every single day and y o u can't help getting closer to them. A n d then all o f a sudden pantomime is done. Y o u see them once a week i f that, once every month, and its just kind o f sad. ( K a y a - A g e 17)  80  The show has closed and I have invited some of the cast and crew over to my house for a barbecue. I They  can hardly do not stop  recognize these talking and they  young are full  My niece is watching a video of and the teenagers wander into  and Soon  they  are  They begin to picking  They  are  performers. of confidence.  "Cinderella", the room.  laugh at the characters suggest variations on the out  the  planning  character  the  next  they  story.  would  pantomime.  like  to  play.  81  8. J O U R N E Y S E N D For me the greatest satisfaction of producing a pantomime comes after the show has closed. chills and each subsequent  Opening night brings its thrills and  performance brings its o w n reward  including flowing praise from audience members.  The praise,  however gracious it may be, leaves little lasting impression. There is nothing that can equal the memory of watching the performers  from  the hall door and feeling so incredibly proud of them. Once the show has closed, the most important reviews begin to float i n , those from the parents and the performers.  The parents say  how much they miss the show, how they are lost now on weekends. They tell of the tears their children shed every morning when they go to school and remember there is no more pantomime to look forward to.  They say how self-confident their children have become,  how they have been brought out of their shell. The performers themselves most often relay one message - they are ready for the next  pantomime.  A J u n i o r Jaunt  Down M e m o r y Lane  In an attempt to fully  understand  the impact that performing  in a pantomime had on these young students, I brought them together i n two separate groups to discuss their experiences from show. Out of a chorus of twenty four juniors, fifteen attended meeting on the M o n d a y .  the  M o s t of the absent chorus members had  the  82 previous extra curricular activities, such as ballet lessons  and many  of their parents phoned to apologize because they could not  attend.  I was greeted on my arrival with warm hugs that d i d not want to end.  The juniors were excited, energetic and curious as to the  purpose of our meeting.  I got the distinct impression that they  were  more than a little disappointed that I was not there to organize a new  pantomime. Settled i n the classroom that would serve as our meeting place,  they asked permission to discard their shoes. They eagerly  grabbed  some cookies I had brought for them and then fought for positions to sit i n the circle on the floor around me.  The tape recorder placed i n  the centre of the circle was of great interest and after  demonstrating  its ability, it was ignored and generally sat upon. A l t h o u g h I had prepared  questions  intended to focus  the  discussion and keep it flowing, it became increasingly clear that the juniors had their o w n agenda for discussion.  In the end it was easier  and vastly more enjoyable to be an audience for their  enthusiasm.  -When my M u m told me that there was going to be a pantomime called " A l a d d i n " , I'm like, what's a pantomime, she explained it a l l to me and I'm like, 'Hey, let's get i n . '  and  - M y brother wants to be i n it next time because he saw how good it looked. He saw how Rhett and others got good parts so he said T can do it.' -We made friends with the b i g girls. -I never played with A l i s i a and now about three times a day I'm friends with A l i s i a and Giselle, and N i c o l a . I was never with Nicola.  83 -Everyone who wants to be a principal, say yes. -(Everyone shouts) Y E S ! - Y o u were a principal. -I was not! - T i d bits. -That's not a principal. A principal has words to say. -Yeah, but you were on the stage by yourself. -The last night I went on stage with my normal panties not my fairy panties, and I didn't even k n o w . -The worse thing that happened to me was when we were running around i n a circle with our candles. I never knew that a candle broke and then all of a sudden I look on the floor and there's my foot on a piece of glass, I had to keep on running. - M y m u m took my costume home to wash, and she brought back a l l the others but she forgot mine so I never even got to go on. -I got better marks after the pantomime. -Even M r s . B i n k s thought I was chatting so much, and now my M u m says I am i m p r o v i n g very w e l l . -I got a red badge too. -I came first i n my class. -I didn't even want to do ballet but I wanted to be i n pantomime. M u m m y says that I probably w i l l only be i n pantomime i f I do ballet. I'm meant to start back ballet, but then I would have to quit gymnastics, and I'm not really good at ballet but I am good at gymnastics, so do you have to do ballet to get into pantomime or not really? -Now we're so bored on Saturday, Sunday. - M y mother even admitted she was bored. First she was like, T can't wait till this thing is over,' then after she is like, 'maybe I'm bored because there's no more pantomime.' -Why can't we have a pantomime every year? -Next time we're o l d enough to have lines. -The mice should have sung 'Cinderella, Cinderella, night and day it's Cinderella...'  84 After the discussion Natasha stayed to let me know that she and her sister had missed the pantomime so much that her arranged for them to have their o w n show at home.  mother  They invited  over some of their pantomime buddies, taped out the floor of the l i v i n g room, practiced for a few hours and then performed their o w n version of "Cinderella". E m m a and A l i c i a met me downstairs and confided i n me their one disappointment over this year's pantomime.  Last pantomime,  E m m a , A l i c i a and Giselle were the youngest performers i n the show and the only cast members from their class.  This year, they  complained, there were so many other juniors that they no longer felt special anymore.  Never mind, next time they are sure they w i l l  be p r i n c i p a l s !  The Seniors Plan Ahead  A s rewarding was the visit with the juniors, my meeting with the principals and senior chorus was even more inspiring.  I was  impressed by the large attendance and even i n d i v i d u a l s who had apologized for their absence commitment showed up.  beforehand  of  another  They were glad to see each other and were  just as excited as the juniors The  because  at being reunited.  older girls dominated the discussion, as expected, but the  others listened keenly and supported i n smaller ways.  Like  juniors they were eager to reminisce and laugh over the  the  mishaps  that occurred throughout the run of the show, but they also listened to my questions  and responded  sincerely and enthusiastically.  Their  85 comments were positive and other than the length of the  rehearsal  period they had little criticism. I personally don't find much fault. If you want to get an A you have to study, i f you want to give an A plus performance you have to rehearse and you have to work hard. It is going to get monotonous as with any sport, or anything. Once you are training to achieve a certain goal you have to do it over and over again, and it w i l l get boring, but it's up to the individual to find certain things that thrill you about each time. Little things to make your performances go by a little easier. It's just an i n d i v i d u a l effort that has to be made. I mean whether people find the rehearsals too long or whatever, we still had faults when we went up on stage. A n d there were still things that needed to be cleaned up. ( K a y a - A g e 17) They spoke of friendships formed and the sense of a family united.  They credited the pantomime with i m p r o v i n g their  performance i n the classroom and teased the principals for retaining their character nuances offstage.  Throughout the discussion it was  evident how proud and l o y a l they were towards the show. I saw pantomimes before and they were a l l very, very good. I wanted to be part of that. I wanted to be part of something that was so good. (Sandy-Age 17) People always say, you cannot beat a St. Winifred's pantomime. People who don't even go to pantomime know . It's just the standard because the standard has not dropped. I know big men, they work and a l l this, no kids or anything, but they w i l l always come and see the children i n pantomime because they love it, and they love to see people coming together and working and pulling off a good show. People that you would never expect to see at pantomime and they come because they love it. (Kaya - A g e 17)  86 It was obvious how much the pantomime meant to them. E v e n at this age and so close after the event they were appreciative of the opportunity they had to perform.  What became even more clear was  how important it was to them that the pantomimes continue.  They  talked of clubs and workshops, things to keep the spirit alive and the cast close together.  A way to be more prepared for the next show  but, what is more important, a way to bridge the gap. After "Sleeping Beauty", A n n a had a drama class, a club, and I went. I really enjoyed it because a lot of people that had been i n pantomime were there. It was great because you got to see your friends and you also got to fool around and do other things. W e could experiment a little more and get r i d of these inhibitions that we have. Then when you get up on stage it w i l l be a little easier to find that little bit of courage, to do things that maybe you would not normally do. ( N a o m i - A g e 16)  87  10.  F R O M A DISTANCE  This study has described a year of exploration and discovery springing from my need to "justify" the continuing tradition of pantomime at St. Winifred's School. "Cinderella"  The 1996 production of  had an expense budget of eighty thousand dollars and  made a surplus of one hundred and seventy thousand dollars, an amount  that w o u l d immediately seem to justify any theatre  endeavor i n any location.  But this would not have been possible  without the many volunteer hours that went into the production. these had to be paid for, worth it.  If  one could certainly wonder i f it was a l l  The full intention of the journey was to explore the depth  and significance of the pantomimes beyond that of p r o v i d i n g financial support for the school. The material collected, i n the form of a personal j o u r n a l , reflective w r i t i n g ,  narrative, letters,  newspaper  articles and interviews, were studied.  Without question,  the  St.  Winifred's pantomimes have a great impact on the  development  of the school and it's wider community.  Looking  Back  This study supports  a number of impressions about  the  pantomimes and their effect on the school and the i n d i v i d u a l s involved.  It is abundantly clear that the performance  like ancient theatre, as  a c o m m u n i t y - b u i l d i n g exercise.  functioned,  88 The Barbadian public eagerly anticipated and filled the throughout a l l twenty performances  Hall  of "Cinderella", an audience  loyal  to the school since the first "Mother Goose" was presented i n 1969. In addition to supporting the performance,  parents and  discovered skills i n choreography, music, set design and construction.  friends costume  Peter Chapman progressed from being a helper with  the props on " A l a d d i n " to designing, supervising and building most of the props for "Cinderella". backstage  He then found time to manage the  crew for a l l rehearsals  and  performances.  Adults who professed no particular s k i l l , energy.  They w i l l i n g l y transported  rehearsals,  donated time and  children back and forth to  sold tickets, food, drinks and programs, directed  ushered, dressed the performers  and worked backstage.  traffic,  M a n y of  these people who started by just helping a little, later  became  invaluable to the production process,  more  interested,  involved  as they become  and proud of the community  achievement.  One future parent of the school asked me after the pantomime i f I ever experienced any feeling of resentment from the  volunteers  who were consistently being asked to contribute their time to the school.  O n the contrary, experience has shown parents to become  more dedicated to the school as a result of their involvement with the pantomimes. Indeed, the challenge is to keep volunteers involved to avoid feelings of being "left out".  fully  D u r i n g the production  of "Cinderella" the school was also preparing for the 75th anniversary celebration.  Parents, many of w h o m were also busy  making costumes and sets for the show,  donated their time to paint  bathroom walls and i n general beautify the school.  It was not the  89 first, nor w i l l it be the last time, this would happen.  Every summer,  for the past three years, a w i l l i n g team of painters has helped to "touch up" the school so that the students begin the new year i n a spotless  environment.  M a n y other volunteer programs are also i n place at St. Winifred's.  A l l of them have been initiated during the reign of  the pantomimes.  E a c h class has two parent representatives  who  remain i n contact with the teacher and help organize any activity, thereby freeing the administrative staff  for other things.  Parents  help with form trips, providing transport  as w e l l as food for a picnic.  Parents also assist professionals who visit the school to provide eye tests, vaccinations and tips on dental hygiene. reading program has  been  developed whereby  In the Junior school a several parents  arrive  to act as teacher's aids and teach reading on a "one to one" basis. This has now been broadened to include help with arts and craft classes w h i c h parents and children enjoy very much. N e w suggestions  have already started  who were involved i n the last pantomime.  to flow from  parents  They see areas that need  to be improved and realize how much their help is welcomed and appreciated.  One parent who recently spotted a broken guard  wall  came i n on a Saturday, fixed the w a l l and repainted it, to the delight of the headmistress.  A s one parent said,  "Those who are not fully  involved (in the pantomime) just don't get it. money.  It's not just  about  This is your child's school, be involved, see where they play,  see what needs to be fixed, what needs to be done." Besides getting to know the school, parents also begin to know the children.  Another pantomime helper expressed  similar  thoughts,  90 "I think they (those who do not get involved) do not know what they are missing. the kids.  A t the end of the whole thing you feel like family to a l l  N o w when I see them i n the car park at school they come  running up 'Auntie M a r c i a ,  Auntie M a r c i a ! '  I never knew these kids  before." The children who participated i n the pantomime, as cast or crew, also learnt about community spirit and developed their o w n "sense of ensemble".  A group of over seventy students, a l l under the  age of eighteen, spent six months together, specific goal.  focused towards the  same  S k i l l s of personal discipline were challenged as children  learned how to cooperate, collaborate and respect each other. they worked and played together,  As  they also grew i n poise and self  confidence. Rehearsals began with a reading of the script so that the entire cast could get a sense of the final goal.  The children then divided  into different groups to learn their respective lines and dances  and  as they did so, began to realize the importance of each part to the whole  production. F r o m the first "Mother Goose" to the latest "Cinderella", a l l the  St. Winifred's productions have relied on the collaboration of adults and children.  N o pantomime has ever been completely based on a  pre-written script rather student  cast.  the  script evolves around and with  Adjustments have always been made to  the  accommodate  the needs of a group, or individual, while maintaining artistic quality. In the 1994 pantomime, " A l a d d i n " , the role of the Genie of the L a m p was expanded to include some improvisational scenes the actor.  developed by  The Genie's initiative and natural talent for comedy w o n  91 h i m a meatier role.  A l t e r n a t i v e l y , i n d i v i d u a l characters  divided into multiple characters  to include more actors.  have  been  The little  village boy i n " A l a d d i n " became three and the older page boy i n "Cinderella" transformed  into two primary school tots.  K n o w i n g the children and writing the script meant that the director, first A n n a and then myself, could tailor the roles to fit the children. The Godmother in "Cinderella" was originally scripted as a typically fat, c o m i c a l and heavily accented type.  Barbadian washer  woman  W h e n the actor chosen to play the part had to be replaced, the  new Godmother became  a fashionably sexy,  over dramatic, valley  g i r l star. The numerous pantomime performance  give the  dance numbers youngest  that are a part of any  children the  within the safety of a group.  opportunity to  A s with the p r i n c i p a l  roles, certain parts are developed to incorporate skills.  experience  children's  individual  Those with strong point work i n ballet, have been given solo  roles and children with gymnastic ability have often been effectively i n dance sequences.  featured  The cast seems to recognize that  spotlighting one child's talent may improve the overall show, w h i c h is every one's ultimate goal.  A s with any good team, the  members  give and take encouraging each child to excel at his or her special gift. D u r i n g the initial staging, or blocking of the scenes, principals are free to explore their character scene.  and their movement  within  the  Whenever possible the children's ideas are used and i f they  are not used, they are told why.  In "Cinderella", the Stepmother  Major D o m o were forever planning new tricks and jokes for each  and  92 scene and many of their ideas made it into the final script. rehearsal  our p h y s i c a l l y  i m p o s i n g Stepmother  prevented  In one  the  Major  D o m o from leaving with the glass slipper by lifting h i m off the floor. This tiny character with his feet peddling desperately through the air was a sight that delighted the other cast members and the later audiences. The junior "mice" chorus i n "Cinderella" was another  classic  example of a performance developing through improvisation.  In one  particular dance the mice were choreographed to help C i n d e r e l l a clean up the mansion.  Although the kernels of the dance remained,  by the end of the run each mouse had created its own character and incorporated new actions and stories into the dance.  Daphne  St. John, a past headmistress of the school, commented that one of the nicest things about the pantomime was that the children  were  not "over produced". A s the " a l l cast" rehearsals began, the entire cast and crew came together to encourage and support each other. rehearsals  captured every one's  Initial a l l cast  attention as completed scenes  dances were viewed by many for the first time.  Following  found cast members i n v o l v e d i n i n d i v i d u a l activities but maintaining a presence.  and  rehearsals  still  The H a l l was filled with children drawing or  doing school work while waiting for their scenes.  Parents  gathered  i n a connecting room, fitting and sewing costumes, and some of the senior cast members would be just outside the hall door softly with backstage crew.  chatting  W h i l e attention was not focused  exclusively on the production, the children remained interested i n the whole process.  A natural movement between the fantasy of the  93 play and the reality of one's own activity was established. Rehearsing i n this manner was practically a necessity when rehearsals  stretched for three to four hours on a Saturday or Sunday.  Focusing intently for ten minutes, far less three hours, was an impossibility for some of the juniors and this way the of rehearsal was not quite so demanding.  repetitiveness  Y e t , the sense of team  work was maintained.  The children were continually aware of the  full scope of the play.  B y performance time, many knew the lines  and movements  of a l l the  characters.  Whether they were onstage  rehearsing, or offstage  their turn, the children learnt that their behavior counted an impact on the group goal.  waiting and had  Negative behavior was replaced by  positive behavior such as watching, listening and encouraging performers,  teaching  dance  numbers  and, i n general, waiting patiently.  to understudies,  other  running lines  They a l l knew that "the  production is bigger than any one of us."  A n n e M a r i e , as a mother whose c h i l d is at St. Winifred's you made me proud to see St. Winifred's put on a pantomime of such a high standard - your dedication and determination to take this production to this high level was evident throughout the entire show. L a l i t a has learnt so much i n her contribution to " A l a d d i n " . It's not just the rehearsal and the hard work but the art of working together as a team. The feeling of 'we' and not T was always i n the air; everyone making sure that the other does w e l l - it was very touching to see this happen when the society we live i n is so different. Maduri Vaswani  94 Besides the promotion of self-confidence and community spirit, cast members also learnt some of the basic tools of drama, song and dance.  Through the experience of production, they learned to  project their voices, not to block each other on stage, to stay i n character, not to turn their backs to the audience and to know their lines.  The principals also learned some of the more difficult  skills  such as, "cueing up" after the last character had spoken, timing the pauses for laughs, and listening and responding to each other making it seem as i f it was happening for the first time.  Dancers i n  the choruses learned specific steps and choreography. What is more important, they learned how to shine on stage. One of the most important skills that the children learned was how to focus their minds on the character and the performance. ability to concentrate was what brought the play to life.  This  Some of the  parents and teachers often remarked at this improvement i n concentration.  The same c h i l d who could not focus for more than  five minutes i n the classroom, was able to learn five different dances and perform them consistently w e l l every night. A s rehearsals  moved closer to the performance date it became  more of a challenge to keep the cast focused through the repetition. N e w elements of the production were introduced one at a time to help the children sustain their concentration.  Sound was an early  addition to the production and it was joined by lighting, scenery and costumes. interested  These new additions to the productions kept and excited.  After months of rehearsals audience.  everyone  the cast was ready for their first  Every detail had been polished and the cast and crew  95 worked together like a w e l l - o i l e d team.  Months of disciplined  effort  now faced the "moment of truth" before an audience that placed more emphasis on the final product than the process.  There is  nothing more inspiring than watching the moment when encounter their first real,  performers  l i v i n g audience and the play comes to life.  A s entertained and transformed as the audience is by the performance, the cast is equally affected. The actors and dancers  feel  the support of the audience and derive new energy that is channeled into their performance.  Each additional show grows and finds new  life as cast members become more and more self confident and improve performances  beyond their o w n expectations.  The  community spirit extends to include the audience, as together,  cast,  crew and spectator experience the magic of shared imagination.  If  there is a single moment that can justify the initiation of any theatre project it is the moment when collectively the community realizes what they have achieved together. i n v o l v e d hundreds  Our pantomime process has  of cast members  and many more crew  members,  through cooperative journeys towards specific goals. It has stimulated and challenged them. Best of a l l , it has created life long memories,  w a r m friendships  and vibrant c o m m u n i t y spirit.  Looking Forward  The implications of this study have consequences for the B o a r d of management,  teachers,  parents,  students and friends of  St. Winifred's school as w e l l as other schools who may be interested i n embarking on similar theatre projects.  The inevitable question is:  96 "If this is such a worthwhile endeavor why aren't we a l l initiating theatre  productions?"  There are several reasons for hesitation.  First, a high  standard  of quality and professionalism must be achieved for the group to feel proud of its achievement.  T h i s requires a certain amount of  expertise i n the field of theatre.  The show cannot be created from  recipe cards and scripts that are inflexible. interested their  and w i l l i n g to work towards  Cast members  a project that  are more  encourages  participation. Once i n d i v i d u a l s who are knowledgeable about  theatre  have  been located, they must be w i l l i n g to accept the demanding work load and take responsibility for the final product. volunteers must provide the labor  Countless other  required to make sets,  and work the shows during performances.  costumes  The whole process  requires a great deal of coordination, time and  energy.  The school must be w i l l i n g to finance the show and trust that they w i l l receive a return for their investment. The teachers must also be w i l l i n g to accommodate to the needs of the  performances.  St. Winifred's School began their Christmas term a week early so that classes would not run too far into the performance pantomime.  dates of the  Towards the end of the term, the final lesson each  Friday was disrupted so that students could bring their chairs down to the auditorium.  A few teachers,  whose classrooms were located at  the back of the hall, had to teach i n restricted areas as their classrooms  were transformed  rooms for lighting and sound  into additional audience boards.  space  or  97 There is no course available that can teach all the details of large scale community productions school or community must embark that the benefits production. worth the  and guarantee success.  Each  on its o w n adventure and trust  of the theatre w i l l grow with each  additional  For St. Winifred's School the journey has been w e l l effort.  A Final Thought Anne Marie - 'Cinderella' was, without doubt T H E B E S T ! can be truly proud of your production - may there be more i n the future.  You many  Y o u have clearly found your 'role i n life.'  I'm just so proud that St. Winifred's was on the receiving end! Nance B i n k s - Head Mistress  This year's journey and exploration into the progression  and effects  history,  of the St. Winifred's pantomimes  have  presented me with new discoveries and questions about my o w n future.  M y personal involvement i n past pantomimes  certain extent,  self-serving.  had been, to a  Theatre has been a passion  and  performing i n , or producing a show always satisfied my o w n interests.  What I have discovered throughout the journey of this  production was a new feeling of loyalty and responsibility to these young performers  who are desperate to continue  pantomime at St. Winifred's School.  this tradition o f  I feel tied to their needs and  question whether I have the right to decide i f I feel like doing another  pantomime.  98 Every cast member was i n tears on the last night and parents reported later on the loss their children felt after the show was over. C h i l d r e n write to thank me for "making their dreams come  true".  They plan the next show and campaign for their chance to perform as a principal.  There is no hesitation to their dedication and  commitment to future  pantomimes  and the  older performers  mourn  the end of their reign.  Dear M i s s M u c o n y , I like my dances and I like you. I thank you for letting me be i n the pantomime. Y o u mite of not got me i n but I still thank y o u . Love, Laura  Dear  AnneMarie, I doubt I w i l l ever be able to find the right words to thank you efficiently for giving me this opportunity. A n n e M a r i e , i n a l l sincerity, thank you for making one of my dreams a reality! I know that this experience w i l l stay with me for the rest of my life! I could not possibly have asked for a better person to guide me through this. Thank you so much for teaching me how to act; for never giving up on me even when I was miserable! F o r always understanding and listening and having faith! Thanks, Thanks, Thanks! I could never have done this without y o u ! ! ! W i t h lots of love , Annalise  99 What is my responsibility to these children? M o r e and more I feel I owe them some continuity. needs.  I feel I have to respond to their  I understand so clearly now why A n n a handed over the  reins to me so w i l l i n g l y , so graciously.  She too must have been  aware that she was the keeper of a tradition that should not, could not die.  C a n I walk away now when I have had enough without  finding my replacement?  C a n I plan my future without a single  consideration o f where the pantomime w i l l fit in? Eight years ago A n n a , my mother and I rekindled a tradition that had been dead for 12 years at St. Winifred's School.  I had no  idea o f the responsibility that would come with the rebirth of the pantomimes. again?  D i d Anna?  What was her intention starting it a l l up  Was it just for fun, to satisfy her need for creativity, for  theatre, or was she grooming her successor.  YOU GIVE LITTLE WHEN YOU GIVE OF YOUR POSSESSIONS, IT IS WHEN YOU GIVE OF YOURSELF THAT YOU TRULY GIVE. Kahlil  Gibran  100  BIBLIOGRAPHY  A l l e n , A . (1996, November 17). The  Nation  A l l e n , J. (1979).  Newspaper, Drama  G a l a Opening of 'Cinderella'.  p. 7.  in Schools,  Its Theory and  Practice.  L o n d o n : Heinemann Educational B o o k s L t d . Beck, B u y s , Fleischhacker, Grandstaff, Play Production  Today.  Blackman, F . (1996). Barbados: Bolton, G .  Bolton, G .  N a t i o n a l Textbook  Winifred's  Drama  as education:  1921-1996:  (1986).  Selected  Barbados  Writings.  Advocate,  London:  Private Schools.  The  London:  placing  Longman.  Longman.  p. 14.  Barbados  Dear, K . (1994, November 27). Life,  celebration.  W o m e n i n the Creative A r t s .  Cummings, E . L . (1973, December 3).  Sunday  a  an argument for  at the centre of the curriculum.  Burrowes, A . (1976, February 7). The  School  Company.  Coles Printery L i m i t e d .  (1984).  drama  St.  S i l l , M e m i t . (1983).  Definitive Argument for Advocate,  pp. 1,8.  Theatre R e v i e w : ' A l a d d i n ' .  p. 16.  Dodd, N . , & Hinkson, W .  (1971). Drama  and Theatre in  Education.  L o n d o n : Heinemann Educational B o o k s L t d . Frow, G .  (1985).  British  Oh, Yes it is:  Broadcasting  a history of pantomime.  Corporation.  London:  10  Hannum, C .  (1992).  The Drama  Creative drama as core curriculum.  Theatre  Teacher,  Harrison, J. (1971, November 25). The  Nation  Newspaper,  Hutchinson, B .  Jellicoe, A .  and Dramatic  (1991, August).  theatre makes a comeback  Report, (1987).  pp.  The  Community  Barbados  Barbados  Plays.  Drama  London:  Methuen.  'Aladdin'-First Class Christmas  Advocate,  pp. 1,8.  The A r t of Being G o o d and Y o u n g .  Advocate,  Slade, P. (1954). Child  in Alberta.  32-33  Seale, D . (1994, December 8). The  Basil  A l l the province is a stage:  Prescott, A . (1971, November 28). Fare.  Art . Oxford:  Limited.  community Alberta  Another V i e w of ' A l a d d i n ' .  p. 2.  Hornbrook, D . (1989). Education Blackwell  6(4), 26-29.  p. 11 . London:  University of L o n d o n Press  Limited. Smith, A . (1996, November 29). The  Barbados  Advocate,  Somers, J. (1994). Drama Educational  'Cinderella' a Show for the F a m i l y .  p. 32.  in the Curriculum.  L o n d o n : Cassell  Limited.  Tarlington, C , & Verriour, P. (1983). Offstage-Elementary through Drama.  Toronto:  O x f o r d University.  education  102 Wagner, B . J. (1976). Medium.  Dorothy  New York:  Heathcote-Drama  as a  Learning  National Education Association of United  States. Watkins, B . (1981). Drama  and Education.  Batsford Academic and  Educational L t d . Way, B . (1967). Group  Development  Drama.  London: Longman  Limited.  W i l s o n , A . E . (1934). Institution. Wilson, A . E . Press  through  Christmas  London: (1949).  Limited.  Pantomime:  The story of an  English  U r w i n Brothers L t d .  The Story of  Pantomime.  London:  Staples  


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