It’s been two years since I worked on a pantomime in Manchester. I walked in, wanting to get experience in lighting design, and a week later I was swirling round spotlights two shows a day in the Altrincham Garrick’s Jack and the Beanstalk, and I have such fond memories of that time. The hours were long, and I would often be stuck in a dark control room on my own for long periods of time, but when it was good, it was really good. You quickly gain friends and allies through times of stress and find the funny in the mundane and familiar. Shows went by so fast, my eyes only grew tired on the long tram ride home to Rusholme. I got to know my tea breaks well. A few minutes to get down two flights of stairs to backstage to get in line for a brew in the interval, a brief ten minute chat to the technicians who always had a lot to say, and then I was back in my little box. I’d remember each line, each inflection, each joke, cues run like clockwork after the seventh, eighth, ninth show. Pantomime crews relish the chaos really – it’s a slapdash sort of affair that can only be endured if you really (even if secretly) love working on them. There’s an art to the chaos that ensues behind the scenes. Much more than any other production.
So spare a thought to those of us sighing in the wings, when the giant’s wooden arms have been caught in the curtains.