The 30 year exhibition

Isabel Yeo created a wonderful 30 years of the panto exhibition. I will leave it to her to write about it.

About a year ago it seemed like a good idea ......
I wanted to celebrate 30 pantomimes and show some of the present cast what they were involved with
In January, surrounded by boxes from the Mellershes garage and bags of exhibits from the millenium exhibition and with Alistair Banks hoping to archive everything electronically at the same time I did have a few misgivings.

Having been involved since 1986 I was fascinated to see photos and programmes from the earliest pantomimes. I decided to record all the names from these early years on a spreadsheet; like Topsy it growed and I worked on it during winter evenings unitl I'd recorded everyone who had been involved from 1978 to 2007. For Nick and Jeanie unearthing the photos was like rediscovering old friends. The reminiscences flowed and they began to contact people they hadn't spoken to for years to see what memorabilia and memories they had.
Many people dug out photos, costumes and props for me and all of them enjoyed with much laughter the memories and stories that came with them.
Some of the cast, though, were just so embarrassed at the thought of their teenage selves cross-dressing or playing the romantic lead that they almost hid whenever they saw me.
Because people began to rely on the videos there was a great shortage of photographic material from the later panto's. There wasn't one photo of Flash Gordon in 1981, but luckily there was a most brilliant hand painted poster by Kate Tyrell which more than filled the gap.

Alan Prince worked for hour upon hour scanning photos and arranging them into collages; the end result was a series of brilliantly coloured centrepieces;one for almost every year.
We borrowed exhibition boards, bought blutak, pens, pins, coloured paper . Putting the exhibition together was a pleasure. There was something for every year, and this wiki became an excellent source of gap - filling reminiscences.
Sallie Leatherdale, Sue Madden, Hilary Simpson and I worked on this together - sorting, sticking, hanging, gossiping, pinning, laughing, cutting, drinking coffee, climbing on chairs (health and safety)...
The first people to see the exhibition were the cast of the 2007 panto and their families. They all spent time wandering and looking and many returned when they could during the rehearsal for another look. This to me made it all worthwhile.