The Devonshire Park Halls, which normally houses stacks of chairs and boxes of print, becomes the buzzing hub of Eastbourne’s pantomime.
Peter Pan opens at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne on December 11 where it plays until January 17.
These buildings are transformed with a frenetic energy when the pantomime cast and creative team take up residence in the rooms as they put the show together. In the space of just a few weeks the show, which up until that point just existed in pages of text, rolls of fabric and conversations with agents becomes the living breathing embodiment of Christmas at Eastbourne Theatres.
The cast are all gathered together for the very first time and it’s straight into getting the show up and running.
An initial read through is the first chance the cast get to meet each other and from then on it’s a case of 12 hour plus days, blocking scenes, learning songs, lines and dance steps. Fuelled by coffee and mince pies this engine room is an unlikely looking place for the magic to be created, but in a frankly dazzlingly short period of time the show is brought to life.
Pantomime director and writer Chris Jordan said, “Every year on the first day when the cast assemble for the very first time it feels like, just for a fleeting but terrifying minute, that it’s going to be impossible to get this group of actors to become the show.
“That for the first time it’s simply not going to happen. But within the first five minutes of them all sitting around the table and starting to read the script, those fears are banished and I know that despite it seeming like a world away this band of people who have been brought together for the first time will become the show and something special is being created.”
Martyn Knight, Eastbourne’s pantomime dame for the last 12 years, said, “The pantomime cast is an unusual thing to be a part of; you live and breathe the show for an intense period of time. It literally takes over your every thought.”
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