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Post-Punk Pantomime: Overview

Creating a new theatrical genre is such an arrogant act that I don't think anyone purposely sets out to do so. However, serendipitous accidents happen, and sometimes lots of them happen in a row. Then you get asked to describe your show...and you find yourself saying...'post-punk pantomime'.


We've been developing our adaptation of Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry for the past two years. Somehow, through this process, we've found a new genre: the post-punk pantomime. What is post-punk pantomime? It's really quite simple. All the things we expect from a pantomime, combined with everything we expect from punk.


Pantomime expectations:

1. Audience interaction

2. Oversized characters & costumes

3. Storytelling

4. Humor

5. Magical realism


Punk expectations:

1. Gratuitous sex & violence

2. Overt political message

3. DIY ethics

4. Technically simple

5. Gender-bending


Not all of these are present in every post-punk pantomime, however, lots are. Thus we produce performances that unite joy and freedom, sex and violence, politics and magical realism, audience interaction and storytelling, cartoonish visuals with simplicity. We produce post-punk pantomimes: the best of both worlds.


It's also worth mentioning that lots of these characteristics are already present in both traditional pantomime and traditional punk. The chief characteristic they share is a level of accessibility. Pantomime and Punk were both created to be made by, and enjoyed by, ordinary people. They appeal to the masses and don't require high intellectual knowledge in order to be engaged with. I believe that theatre should be accessible to all classes and all levels of education and knowledge.


One of the chief joys of producing a post-punk pantomime is in taking a 'well regarded' play, such as Ubu Roi, other absurdist/surrealist plays, or even a Shakespeare play, and rendering it accessible. You shouldn't need a degree in theatre to enjoy theatre.


Another way to ensure the accessibility of post-punk pantomime for ordinary people is to make our theatre A) Local and B) Cheap. No traveling to the West End and spending £50 per ticket to see our work: we want non-theatre goers to engage with us. And I'd like to make this a bigger focus for us in the future.


In the next series of posts, I'll be talking about different aspects of the post-punk pantomime, and why I think this is a vital part of our Squall + Frenzy philosophy... watch this space.


- Isabel Sensier (Creative Director)

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