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Pantomime

Oh, yes it is…!

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Know your lines and don’t bump into the furniture.
Spencer Tracy

Every year the ‘Ivyletts’ treat us to a Pantomime.

This page is in indexes: Island Activity, Island Detail

Pantomime [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]

Go to: OriginsMore recent IvylettsPeopleThe South Atlantic Players (SAPS)Earlier stage productionsRead More

Origins

The idea of establishing an amateur dramatics group was initially that of George Checksfield, who with his wife Angela were on St Helena for some three years. In 1974 St. James’ church had a very good choir and George used to sing with it at festive time. He was impressed with the singing in the church and he persuaded some of the members that they should produce some light entertainment for the community.

One of island’s most prominent male voice singers of the time was Lionel Yon of Wellington House. Lionel was also a natural comedian. George suggested the group should be called the ‘Ivyletts’. The aim was to bring some happiness to the island, raise morale and shake things up it bit.

First productions were follies - light theatrical revues - which consisted of group dancing, singing, poetry and short sketches. The concerts were produced in the Paramount Cinema Hall{1}. Tickets were often sold out by the first day, and the cinema hall would be packed.

Later the group was joined by Stanley Allen, St Helena’s first Attorney General, who with his wife Pat had had lots of theatrical experience and brought a different dimension to group’s presentations. They came up with idea of having a Pantomime at Christmas, and wrote and produced the very first one, called ‘The Blue Minah Bird of Happiness’. The show was a huge success, playing for four nights to a packed hall.

The group experimented with drama but soon discovered that the Saint community preferred comedy.

In 1981 a second cinema opened, called the Queen Mary{5}. The Ivyletts opened that hall with ‘Cinderella’ and for a few years had a choice of venues.

The cinemas declined in the 1980s due to the arrival of home video and by the late 1980s both had closed down. This would have left the Ivyletts with nowhere to perform, but the island’s new Secondary School, Prince Andrew School, opened in 1989, equipped with a large performance hall. The Ivyletts began productions there in 1994.

Productions over the years included ‘The Blue Minah Bird of Happiness’ (photos below), ‘Goody two Shoes’, ‘Puss ‘n Boots’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Jack and the Bean Stalk’ (some of these more than once).

Photos from Panto 1975: ‘The Blue Minah Bird of Happiness’

You are invited to start Christmas by seeing the Pantomime entitled ‘The Blue Mynah Bird of Happiness’, presented by the Ivylets at the Paramount Cinema Hall on the 4th and 5th December. Tickets will be obtainable from Mr C. T. Corker, Jamestown, from Monday 24th November at 9am.

St Helena News Review, November 1975{3}

Panto 1975: ‘The Blue Minah Bird of Happiness’ (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]

Panto 1975: ‘The Blue Minah Bird of Happiness’ (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]

Panto 1975: ‘The Blue Minah Bird of Happiness’ (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]

Panto 1975: ‘The Blue Minah Bird of Happiness’ (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]

Panto 1975: ‘The Blue Minah Bird of Happiness’ (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]

More recent Ivyletts

‘Babes in the Wood’, 2010 [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]
‘Babes in the Wood’, 2010

The first of the more recent Ivyletts Pantomimes was ‘Babes in the Wood’, loosely based on the legend of Robin Hood and performed in December 2010 at Prince Andrew School. The event was a great success, leading to calls for the pantomime to again become an annual event. The show even entered island culture, in such that the following letter (extract) appeared in the St Helena Independent early in 2011:

Dear Editor,
The Sheriff of Nottingham seems to have left the pantomime and joined SHG as an economist. Most of us peasants are bewildered by the range of new taxes being introduced…

‘Ali Baba and the 40 theives’, 2012 [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]
‘Ali Baba and the 40 theives’, 2012

The next pantomime was performed in January 2012: ‘Ali Baba and the 40 theives’. The story was narrated by 2 trainee fairies, Tipsy & Curvy, watched closely by their Headteacher, Fairy Nuff. A third, very naughty fairy, Silly Tilly, did her best to disrupt proceedings. Prince Andrew School was packed for the performance, thus firmly establishing the pantomime as an annual event on St Helena.

‘Sleeping Beauty’ was performed in December 2012, followed in December 2013 by ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’, billed as ‘The most remote Pantomime in the world.’{4}.

The January 2015 pantomime was ‘Jack and the Bean Stalk’. The full report appears below. In 2016 the pantomime was Cinderella.

2016: Cinderella [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]
2016: Cinderella

People

The only two remaining from the original Ivyletts group are Ivy Ellick, who handles overall production and runs the group, and Olive Williams, who was nominated as treasurer in the 1970s and holds that position right up to this present day.

In the past performers were mostly Saints, but today the cast is mainly comprised of visitors, mostly ‘ex-pats’ here to work on Government contracts. The organisers have expressed the view that “we need to rekindle the interest in our fellow St Helenians to become active once again in performing on stage and assisting with stage management.

The South Atlantic Players (SAPS)

Forty-three years on - DID YOU KNOW that until SAPS commenced presenting regular stage plays in 1972 there had been no continuous theatre on St Helena for more than a 100 years when the Theatre on Castle Square burned down.

The Players started as a play reading Group. At that time it was hoped that SAPS would continue and maybe replace the Arts Club, run by the late Mrs Eva Benjamin and M. G Martineau, which did such good work in entertaining St Helenians some years before. Inevitably the time came when an idea of putting on stage was ventured.

The first play presented on stage, in May 1972, was ‘FREE AS AIR’ a Musical in two Acts by Dorothy Reynolds and Julian Slade, who also wrote the music. The Producers of this show were Jean and Peter Woodley, the then Cable & Wireless Manager. George Stevens was the Musical Director. This was followed in August 1972 by ‘AS LONG AS THEY’RE HAPPY’ a Farcical Comedy in Three Acts by Vernon Sylvaine - Directed and Produced by Brian Mann. Then ‘FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS’ a Comedy by Austin Steele in December 1972 performed for three nights! (by special demand). Directed by Brian Mann. Paul Geeson produced the following two, in May 1973 a Thriller by Robert Thomas entitled ‘TRAP FOR A LONELY MAN’ and in August 1973 ‘I’LL GET MY MAN’ another Farcical Comedy, this time by Philip King. Brian and Paul worked for the Diplomatic Wireless Service and lived at Piccolo Hill, Longwood. Becoming more daring and adventurous in November 1973 ‘A MURDER HAS BEEN ARRANGED’, A Ghost Story by Emlyn Williams was Directed and Produced by Edith Timm.

All Productions took place on the Stage at the Paramount Cinema/Theatre in Main Street, Jamestown…

St Helena Independent, 15th May 2015{3}

Earlier stage productions

Some of St Helena’s former theatres are discussed on our Theatres page.

Read More

Article: “Pantomime 2015

Published in the St Helena Independent 16th January 2015{3}

Pantomime 2015 P1 (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]

Pantomime 2015 P2 (Click to see the full-sized image, opens in a new window or tab) [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]

 

More stories [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]

More stories on our page Read articles about St Helena.

closinghumourimage [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]

Laugh at funny pantomime humour - LOL [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]


Footnotes:

{1} Now a warehouse, though apparently the features of the building have been preserved. It could hold 500 plus people.

{2} We understand that prior to Napoleon’s exile Napoleon Street was known as Cock Street. We do not know exactly when it was renamed.

{3} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged

{4} Inaccurately, we believe - we understand that Tristan da Cunha also holds an occasional panto.

{5} In Napoleon Street{2}. Now a shop, just up from the moonbeamsforall.com • Moonbeams Shop • opens in a new window or tab [Saint Helena Island Info:Pantomime]Moonbeams Shop.



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