UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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


For the past 26 years, in one way or another, I have been connected to a unique private school located on the small island of Barbados. My 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 in 1969 and were produced bi-annually until 1977. After a break of 12 years, they were reintroduced in 1989 and have continued to flourish ever since. As 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 in answering it, provide justification for us and other schools to embark on similar theatre projects. Throughout the process of producing the 1996 pantomime "Cinderella", I recorded the journey of myself, cast and crew members in 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 audience and cast help to document the impact of these shows. 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. Apart from the obvious financial rewards, the major community benefits included positive public 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 in my mind that the pantomimes "give and keep giving," and theatre in 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.

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