Last Friday, the 1st of February, the curtain came down on one of the most unique experiences of my life as the final showing of Dick Whittington, the Springboard Pantomime for 2019, came to an end. It was a sad moment as for the preceding 3 months, much of my spare time had been given over to learning how to perform like a Theatre Pro. It most definitely consumed me, but only in a positive way. Equally, I’m happy to get a portion of my life back.
There’s no doubt that I’ve taken so much from the whole experience and I wanted to share with you why I think you should consider taking part next year, whoever you may be.
Firstly, the obvious one. The cause. Quoting the wonderful @Anne Pierce, Springboard works to inspire young people, unemployed adults and those facing barriers to work, through innovative and memorable programmes and resources. It’s valuable work, we should all get behind it. For me, supporting the cause whilst making a fool of myself on stage felt like the least I could do.
There’s no question that the whole process, from start to finish, has been fun. The people you meet, the places you rehearse, the exposure you get to theatreland, the rush you get when you finally nail your moves/lines, the hilarity around when you do your first costume fitting. Fun, fun fun!
Nothing sharpens the mind like the thought of failing on a live west end stage (A recurring dream that haunted me throughout the 3 months) so you have to be disciplined in your pursuit of success. If you take the learning of this mindset forward into your everyday life, it’s nothing but a good thing.
I went into this with a phenomenally open mind, I didn’t know who I’d meet (I reckoned on some people from hospitality, but you don’t need to be a genius to figure that out) but I did believe that it would be an incredible networking opportunity. What happened took me completely by surprise. You’re surrounded by people you’ve never met, you walk into a rehearsal for a dance routine you’ve never done (And you have no prior dance experience, like me). You walk out of the rehearsal high fiving and heading to the pub because you’ve all achieved something together. It’s infectious as hell. It’s only one example where you find yourself surrounded by people who want to succeed in their own part, but also want you to succeed in yours. All of this happened on a daily basis. Highly motivating. I walk away from this experience with an entirely new set of friendships that will last a lifetime and with a diverse range of people from CEO’s to people just starting out in their careers. Think about it, you all share an experience you don’t get to do every day. It’s inevitable you feel a connection.
One of our pre-show warm ups all about transference of energy to each other to give the best and most energetic performance you can. Couple that with the adrenaline, the energy levels are high, and you walk away each night feeling incredibly alive.
Hospitality is in Safe Hands
Everyone involved was giving up their time to be there, and it became apparent that the dedication shown by everyone to not only do Panto, but also not let their work suffer was just incredible. Couple that with the big hearts everyone had for the cause and the passion shown for the industry by the audience each night, it’s safe to say the industry is in safe hands.
Weight Loss & Fitness
To be honest, I didn’t see this one coming but if you think about it, it makes total sense. In January, the intensity and frequency of rehearsals increases and so you leave each one feeling like you’ve done a gym session. I lost an easy inch off my waist and 6lbs in weight. And what better month to achieve that than in January after a period of indulgence through Christmas. Result.
When I think back to my audition on 6th November, I think about the nervous wreck I was walking into the unknown and then how I let those nerves really get the better of me in the performance I gave. To go from that to delivering 4 from the heart performances 2 months later, the growth in confidence and in general mindset towards it was phenomenal. You should do if for this alone.
Stretching the Comfort Zone
Following on from the previous point nicely, the comfort zone was stretched in every rehearsal and every performance. I’m happy to admit that I’m not the worlds most natural dancer and yet I found myself learning 4 separate dance routines, and I reckon I pulled it off to a certain standard. To say that stretched me is an understatement but that is nothing but positive and in fact it re-engaged me with that part of my brain, and I’ll walk away from the experience more determined to stretch the comfort zone even further in every area of my life.
So, I hope this gives you some insight and motivation towards this amazing cause and experience. I believe the 2020 Pantomime is already in the planning so plenty of time for you to get prepared mentally and skilfully. There are main parts and small parts and everything in between so you can do as much or as little as you wish.
But maybe 2020 is the year you push yourself into that new experience. Come join the #pantofamily, it could be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
Thank you for reading.