Students get chance study for degree in PANTOMIMES

Oh yes you can! Students get chance study for degree in PANTOMIMES in bid to make festive stage shows more professional

  • Staffordshire University will from next September offer a pantomime degree
  • Students will have to study slapstick and audience participation for the master’s 
  • The degree will combine research with practical study into the British tradition 

It’s enough to make Widow Twankey choke on her custard pie.

Following in the footsteps of such rigorous university courses as surf science and stand-up comedy, students can now take the world’s first pantomime degree.

From next September Staffordshire University will offer a master’s degree in ‘contemporary pantomime practice’.

Over 13 months, budding Cinderellas and Dick Whittingtons will combine research with practical study into the British tradition, which dates back to the Victorian era. 

‘Dame Trot’, played by Clive Rowe, speaks with a traditional pantomime cow during an evening performance of ‘Jack and The Beanstalk’ at the Hackney Empire this month. Students can now take the world’s first pantomime degree

They will master key elements from slapstick to audience participation before performing their own show.

Students will also examine panto through a ’21st century lens’ by looking at how it has been changed by Covid, the #MeToo movement and Disney.

Around 260 professional pantomimes are staged in Britain each year, generating nearly £63million for theatres.

Panto stars Stephen Mulhern and Christopher Biggins back the course. Mr Mulhern said: ‘Pantomimes have become the highest grossing productions for theatres – the lifesaver in the industry due to the profit each generates.’

Christopher Biggins (pictured in his dressing room at Orchard Theatre last month) and other panto stars back the course

Mr Biggins, the star of Aladdin, Cinderella and Winnie The Pooh, added: ‘When I was starting my pantomime career over 50 years ago I wish I could have gone along the route of getting an MA. We should be preserving traditions… and Britain’s heritage.’ 

Course leader Richard Cheshire calls pantomime ‘one of Britain’s great contributions to world theatre’.

Course co-developer Dr Robert Marsden hopes it will help quash the perception that pantomime skills are acquired informally.

Dr Marsden, who is touring his 27th pantomime in Halifax, said: ‘Pantomime is unique. The style of performing and all that goes with it is very difficult.

‘The reality is that producers won’t risk casting inexperienced performers, so formal training opportunities are badly needed.’

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