After three months of hard work this year’s pantomime “Snow White” had its final performance on Saturday 1st February. We were pleased to have entertained large audiences and to have received positive feedback. There have been numerous comments about the enthusiasm and engagement of the entire cast. Children were particularly delighted by the colourful and amusing sight of seven rather large dwarves. There have also been plaudits for the wonderful array of costumes, the superb sets and the special effects. Although there are obvious limitations of size and space in Silchester village hall, we nevertheless always aim to put on a pantomime deploying the broad range of skills possessed by members of our company.
This year our matinee performances sold out very quickly, so please bear this in mind when booking for next year’s pantomime.
Over two weekends we put on a total of seven performances. If you came past Silchester village hall on the afternoon of Sunday 26 January you may have seen a full car park and heard sounds of music and laughter coming from inside. We were continuing a tradition, established over 20 years ago, of staging an extra performance on a Sunday for charity. Each year we present this to an audience of people with learning disabilities, providing it free of charge. It is organised with the assistance of the Loddon Valley Lions.
Such a performance was the brainchild of Margaret Ellingsen of Tadley who at the time was both chairperson of Basingstoke Mencap and a teacher at Limington House School in Basingstoke whose pupils have severe learning difficulties. She realised that the pantomime could provide enjoyment to many individuals who might otherwise not have the opportunity to attend a theatrical event. The Sunday charity performance is now an annual event. Although cast and crew are always a little tired after two Saturday performances, we derive great satisfaction from the pleasure we are able to give to our invited audience.
The Loddon Valley Lions contact prospective audience members from the local area and make arrangements for their attendance, organising transport if necessary. They also help with access for wheelchairs and by providing front of house staff for the event.
Many people in Silchester will have seen Father Christmas waving from the Lions’ float in December. Some of the money raised by that collection is used to purchase treats and interval refreshments for the audience at the charity performance. This helps to create a party atmosphere and the sense of a special occasion. Certainly there is always a happy buzz at this event.
Annually Silchester Players give donations to local charities, including Loddon Valley Lions. Last year this funded a summer party for adults with learning disabilities in addition to the annual charity pantomime performance.
We would like to take this opportunity to give a big thank you to the people Silchester for your generosity. The charity performance is naturally not publicised but it is a small example of something very worthwhile which takes place annually in our village.