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On Your Marks, Get Set, Knit!!!
Tuesday - September 19, 2017
Richmond’s Georgian Theatre Royal is well known across the region for its annual family pantomime but the festive production is almost as famous for its knitting!

Each year, hundreds of knitted objects are incorporated into the show, sometimes as ‘missiles’ to be hurled by the audience at a specific point of the action or sometimes as elaborate decorations to adorn the historic building.

This year, the Theatre is appealing for knitted doughnuts, which will be used during the 54 performances of The Wizard of Oz, taking place between Thursday 7 December and Sunday 7 January.

The crafty tradition first started in 2011 when over 1,000 bananas were knitted for The Adventures of Sinbad; the following year nearly 3,000 white snowball pompoms were amassed for Babes in the Wood; around 2,500 leaves were knitted to construct a huge decorative beanstalk for Jack and the Beanstalk; and last year over 2,000 apples made their way onto the set of Snow White. The Theatre is hoping to repeat these sorts of numbers with this year’s doughnut appeal.

“One of the great things about our pantomime is that it involves the whole community,” said Clare Allen, Theatre Chief Executive and Director of The Wizard of Oz. “As soon as we announced the title of this year’s production, people began asking what they would be knitting.”

“Some knitters even make a social occasion of it and get together at each other’s houses for knitting parties and various groups like the WI take it on as a special project. How the doughnuts will actually be used in the show is of course top secret and all will be revealed when the curtain goes up!” she added. 

There will be a trophy for the largest number of doughnuts knitted by any one individual donated by Richmond’s CJ Lightfoot jewellers. Last year’s winner knit a grand total of 246 apples but several other people came very close.

“The competition is held as a bit of fun,” said Clare Allen. “We have some very serious knitters out there but some people may only choose to make one. It doesn’t matter either way and all are gratefully received. Each doughnut will be treasured, loved and appreciated!”

The Theatre also tries to find homes for the knitted objects once the pantomime is over. The knitted leaves and apples went to make a display at the RSPB reserve at Saltholme and any objects that are left over are recycled as stuffing material for the next year’s campaign.

Doughnut patterns are available to pick up in the Theatre’s Box Office or by visiting the panto page on the Theatre’s website. Alternatively, people can make up their own designs and all colours and sizes are welcomed. 

Finished doughnuts can be handed in at the Box Office or posted to The Georgian Theatre Royal, Victoria Road, Richmond, DL10 4DW up until Monday 1 December.

The Wizard of Oz runs at The Georgian Theatre Royal from Thursday 7 December until Sunday 7 January 2017. Tickets from £8 to £22 are available from the Box Office on 01748 825252 or via the online booking service at www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk

PHOTO: Volunteers at the Georgian Theatre Royal embark on this year’s pantomime knitting campaign. Left to right: Avril Proudlock, Carrie Stephenson, Lynne Kemp, Freya Mawhinney, Jen Capewell and Sue Stephenson.

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