Rare historical pantomime footage on new DVD

Published: 1 December 2009

Researchers from the University of Glasgow have produced a DVD of rarely seen historical footage to celebrate the cultural impact of Scottish pantomime.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow have produced a DVD of rarely seen historical footage to celebrate the cultural impact of Scottish pantomime.

The ‘Pantomime in Scotland’ DVD features archive film from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and a specially recorded soundtrack of authentic pantomime music from the era performed by The Orchestra of Scottish Opera as well as an original piano score created by contemporary pantomime musicians Karen MacIver and Dave Anderson.

Professor Adrienne Scullion, James Arnott Chair of Drama of the University of Glasgow, who has been leading the Pantomime in Scotland research project said:  "Pantomime is one of the great forms of popular theatre. In Scotland pantomime has a distinctive tradition that is based on the connection it achieves with audiences and the scale and quality of the industry too: according to theatre director Lewis Casson, ‘the national theatre of Scotland is pantomime’. Fay Lenore in 'A Wish for Jamie'.

"The films featured in this DVD provide not just the documentary evidence of pantomime at a range of Scottish theatres but they also capture something of the spirit of pantomime too. Despite being silent, despite being of variable technical quality and despite being more than sixty years old, these films show the craft and the personalities of the pantomime performers, the glamour and the energy of pantomime production, the joy and the fun of pantomime performance."

Stars of Scottish pantomime featured on the DVD include comedians Dave Willis, George West, Bert Denver, Jack Anthony and Harry Gordon, in his famous partnerships with Will Fyffe and Alec Finlay, as well as much-loved performers such as Florrie Forde, Duncan Macrae and Robert Wilson. And modern day pantomime legend, Stanley Baxter shares his reminiscences about these famous names.

There's footage illustrating the structure of pantomime with opening scenes and entrances, dance numbers and comic routines, transformation scenes, speciality acts, songsheets and walkdowns. And also film of the imagined worlds of Scottish pantomime showing fantastic versions of village greens and fairgrounds, scenes of town and city life, fairyland, far-off countries and Scotland itself.

Professor Adrienne Scullion said: “These films reconnect us with a theatre environment that is gone forever but they also underline the longevity of pantomime itself. There are very few live events that appeal to the socially-diverse and multi-generational audience of families, school children and older generations too. This remains as true today as it did in decades when the films featured here were made.”

The 'Pantomime in Scotland' DVD will be available at all the leading pantomime theatres in Scotland during the pantomime season. It can also be purchased from the University of Glasgow Visitor Centre shop. The Pantomime in Scotland interactive exhibition is touring theatres this winter.

Pantomime in Scotland exhibition tour dates:

King’s Theatre, Glasgow
Saturday 5 December – Saturday 19 December 2009
0844 871 7648 • www.ambassadortickets.com/glasgow

Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling
Monday 21 December – Thursday 14 January 2010
(closed 25 December and 1 January)
01786 466 666 • www.macrobert.org

Further information:
Martin Shannon, Senior Media Relations Officer
University of Glasgow Tel: 0141 330 8593

Professor Adrienne Scullion, Theatre Film and Television Studies James Arnott Chair in Drama
University of Glasgow Tel: 0141 330 4677
Email: A.Scullion@tfts.arts.gla.ac.uk


First published: 1 December 2009