BELLA BARTOCK went to review a community pantomime in New Addington, and was surprised to find the council trying to stop local people’s innocent fun
Matt Spencer of the New Addington Salvation Army Community Church says that their production of Snow White and the Seven Street Traders “is our Christmas gift to the people of New Addington”.
And what a spectacular gift it was, with characterisations, music, performance, a New Addington set and a modern relevance worthy of a professional production. Those fairy god sistas were just ace.
The church, though, faced more of a struggle than just the challenges of production, wardrobe, ticketing and stewarding of what proved to be such a success that an extra performance was required to fulfill
demand. All performances were fully sold out at the generous price of £0.00.
The struggle was finding a way round the dead hand of Croydon Council bureaucracy.
The council deemed the community pantomime to be “a play” and demanded that the Addington Community Association which was hosting the event needed licences for “dancing” and “singing”, though not acting, but only because it was too late to apply for an acting licence.
Some would regard pantomime as being all about “over-acting” rather than acting.
The council’s action was a bit like Tudor monarchs banning “strolling players” for their adverse impact upon the peasants’ willingness to apply themselves to work. Our caring, sharing council would not give way.
The show could only go on after a fairy godmother intervened in the form of Councillor Maria Gatland. The solution was to get everyone to sign up as guests of the ACA.
With Conservative councillor Gatland’s past experience with the IRA, she presumably approached the problem with the attitude that if you can run guns, you can run anything.
Meanwhile, “Tough Guy” Tony Pearson, the Conservative Councillor for New Addington, was very critical of those who expressed concern about the council’s proposed ban on the Christmas panto, saying that those who criticised should stay away from New Addington. Pearson (who we are unable to confirm turned down the pantomime role of Wicked Stepmother for fear he might be typecast) described critics of the council’s attempt to ban the panto as “disgusting”.
A friend of Pearson’s said that they “thought this event was for New Addington residents only”.
Next year’s pantomime seems bound to include cameo appearances by the officious council official. They won’t be as good as to the two ugly sistas though.
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