Staff at the panto from lecture theatre to performing on stage
University staff swapped lecture theatres for a pantomime stage with an IT specialist as a French dwarf and a Librarian as a pantomime dame.
Four University staff members recently finished a series of performances of Snow White, as part of the Horndean Amateur Theatrical Society (HATS).
The cast and crew included:
- Ian Tapster, Principal Lecturer, School of Film Media and Communication as the writer and director
- Francesca Sherren, Nursery Manager, as Leigh (one of the ‘baddies’)
- David Sherren, Map Librarian, as Nursey the pantomime dame
- Phil Davies, Senior Desktop Specialist from Information Services, as Toulouse the dwarf and a palace guard
Ian Tapster wrote and directed this pantomime version of Snow White as his first ‘proper’ play. He became addicted to amateur dramatics nearly 20 years ago after he wrote and performed a couple of sketches for a school performance raising money for charity. He said:
Everyone will know the Disney Snow White, but I wanted to move away from that and add more humour. The Seven Dwarfs have different names such as Droopy and Sleazy and a pantomime cow is even dismembered by a chainsaw off stage!
David Sherren has been involved in HATS since the 1980s, improving his acting skills but also learning technical aspects such as lighting design, sound production and even graphic design, producing the posters and programmes for the group. David reminisces about a wardrobe malfunction when he performed in a one-act play called 'Pastiche': 'I had just two weeks to learn the violin! Unfortunately, the cast jumped a few pages while I was changing my costume, leaving me in a panic about which costume to put on next. I found myself sitting in a wheelchair with a police helmet on my head, carrying a fiddle.'
Phil Davies has always had an interest in amateur dramatics since school and got involved in the theatre group during the 1990s while working as a technician in the School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences with David. He's been involved ever since, and also enjoys the technical aspects, particularly set building and design, which can often prove to be an interesting challenge.
HATS specialises in comedies, farce, light drama and thrillers and celebrated its 70th anniversary last year. All staff members say that a large part of being involved in the theatre group is the friendships they have made, the teamwork, the laughter and the memories along with some dodgy jokes and throwing flour, water and eggs at each other, which the audience always seems to enjoy.
If you'd like to know more about HATS, visit their website.