The University of Staffordshire is launching the world’s first pantomime diploma – oh yes they are

The University of Staffordshire has launched the world’s first degree dedicated to the art of pantomime and it is backed by some of the biggest names in the industry.

The MA Contemporary Pantomime Practice offers research and practical studies on the highly regarded UK institution which generates vital income for UK theaters every year and attracts big stars and large audiences to the stage at Christmas.

Developed in association with the Wilkes Academy of Performing Arts and supported by pantomime producers, the MA’s focus is strongly professional, providing formal training in the industry and professional networking through internships and experiences from job.

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Behind the course are Richard Cheshire and Dr Robert Marsden, who are recognized researchers and exercise experts in the field with a wealth of professional experience in directing and directing pantomime, a spokesperson for the university said. .

Course leader Richard Cheshire, who is currently directing a production of Snow White at Stafford’s Gatehouse Theater, said: “Pantomime is one of Britain’s great contributions to world theater and we want to increase respect for this interactive art form. It is an annual tradition for families and it is often where children have their first experience of “live” theater.

“Much has been written about the history and development of British pantomime, but very little research currently investigates and analyzes contemporary manifestations of the form. It’s a great period of innovation for the genre we want to be at the forefront.

Associate Professor of Acting and Directing Robert Marsden, who is currently conducting his 27th pantomime in Halifax, said: “Pantomime is unique – the style of performance and everything that goes with it is very difficult.

“There is a perceived lack of formal training, mentoring and meaningful development opportunities for employment in this specialized art form. Training is informal, traditions are inherited or passed down orally and most artists from pantomime have to learn on the job.

“The reality is that producers won’t take the risk of recruiting inexperienced artists, so formal training opportunities are absolutely necessary. “

The master’s degree, which is due to start in September 2022, will examine pantomime through the lens of the 21st century and offer students hyper-personalized learning routes tailored to their interests – whether that is becoming a pantomime lady or a director. Students will also design, create, produce and visit their own original pantomime within the community.

Jonathan Wilkes, director of Wilkes Academy, is currently performing in his 17th pantomime at the Regent Theater in Stoke-on-Trent.

He said: “We are delighted to launch this new degree with the University of Staffordshire. Pantomime is an incredibly important part of British culture that brings people together and is loved by all ages.

“It’s been a big part of my life and I can’t wait to pass on my knowledge and skills to support the next generation of panto professionals.

“At Wilkes Academy we have over 100 students across the UK in pantomime and run pantomime modules in our undergraduate program. We are totally committed to this art form.”

It is estimated that over 260 professional pantomimes are held in Britain each year. This generates almost £ 63million in revenue per year, helping to keep theaters afloat and funding theatrical productions throughout the year.

Employment in pantomime is not just seasonal. Many production houses employ set and costume designers, prop and wig makers, screenwriters, dance specialists, music directors and arrangers, marketing and advertising experts, producers, archivists and creators in management and leadership roles throughout the year.

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