Panto time is fast approaching and that means time to get the knitting needles out!
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. Previous years have seen knitted doughnuts, apples, leaves and bananas all ingeniously incorporated into the shows.
This year, the Theatre is appealing for knitted squares, which will be made into a gigantic blanket to be used during the 60 performances of Sleeping Beauty, taking place between 7 December and 13 January 2019.
Each square should be 12” by 12” (30cm by 30cm) and can be made in any colour or combination of colours. The tension should be fairly tight to avoid snagging but otherwise the design and style are completely up to the individual knitter. The more variety the better.
All squares should be handed in at the Box Office or posted to arrive at the Theatre no later than Wednesday 31 October. There will also be a couple of communal drop-in ‘construction’ sessions when the blanket will be sewn together on Tuesday 6 November and Wednesday 7 November from 10am until 4pm at the Theatre. Everyone is welcome to attend and teas, coffees and cakes will be served throughout the day.
The Theatre’s knitting 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; 2,000 apples made their way onto the set of Snow White and last year well over 2,000 doughnuts were used to defeat the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz. The Theatre is hoping to repeat these sorts of numbers with this year’s knitted square appeal. Any surplus squares will be used to decorate the Theatre during the festive season.
“Our pantomime embraces the whole community and the knitting campaign is a great way to involve people of all ages before the show even starts,” said Clare Allen, Theatre Chief Executive and writer of Sleeping Beauty. “We have a regular band of very loyal knitters and people start asking what we are knitting as soon as the curtain goes down on the last show of the previous year. I am always amazed at how far away some of our contributions come from. Last year we even had some sent from Finland!”
“This year’s knitting task is particularly easy so hopefully young children should be able to join in. Some knitters even make a social occasion of it and get together at each other’s houses. With this in mind, the two blanket-making days at the Theatre should be great fun - like big sewing parties!” she added.
The Theatre is also keen to find homes for the knitted objects once the pantomimes are over. The knitted leaves and apples went to make displays at the RSPB reserve at Saltholme and last year’s doughnuts made fun ball pools for local nursery schools.
Sleeping Beauty runs at The Georgian Theatre Royal from Friday 7 December until Sunday 13 January 2019. Tickets from £9 to £22 are available from the Box Office on 01748 825252 or via the online booking service at www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk
PHOTO: Anyone can knit!: The young cast members of Sleeping Beauty are taught to knit squares by Theatre volunteers Jen Capewell (front row, second left) and Lynne Kemp (front row, second right).