This Christmas, graduating actors from the MFA experienced one of Drama Studio London’s best-loved traditions – devising and performing a pantomime for the local primary schools in and around Ealing. Working with director Kirsty Cubberley, we based our panto on the tale of Mother Christmas, a folk story about an impoverished Russian babushka who follows a star to look for a baby king and ends up with a never-ending basket of Christmas presents. It might not be as well-known as ‘Peter Pan’ or ‘Mother Goose’, but over the course of one week of intense and very fun rehearsals, we panto-fied the story, complete with comedy chases and slapstick soldiers.
Excitingly, after our Ealing tour was finished, we travelled to Malvern, Worcestershire to stage the show at the Coach House Theatre. After a couple of days’ rehearsal, we performed two preview shows to the theatre’s youth drama club. Performing on a traditional stage with wings and lighting felt like a luxury after school halls!
Unfortunately, not even the magic of panto could keep COVID at bay. On our first day of public performances at The Coach House Theatre, we woke up to the news that the show had to be cancelled. It was gutting not to be able to perform after all the work we’d put in and to feel as if we hadn’t said a proper goodbye to the story we’d spent the last three weeks telling.
So, after New Year, when our WhatsApp chat pinged with a message from Kirsty telling us a primary school was still dying to see it and wanted to book out two full houses, we all jumped at the chance to go back to Malvern. It was so much fun to return to our roles and impressively everyone’s lines were all still there. Revisiting a show isn’t something most DSL companies get to experience, so we all feel really lucky that everything came together to make it happen.
By Georgie Rodgers, MFA in Professional Acting with Independent Production