Event details

  • Sat 25 November 2017 to Sun 18 February 2018
  • All day
  • Free admission, drop in
  • The Beaney, 18 High Street, Canterbury, CT1 2RA
  • 01227 862 162
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A celebration of pantomime, told through one of the UK’s largest collections. Laugh, boo and hiss at this brand new hands-on exhibition featuring posters, props and costume designs from the David Drummond collection, recently acquired by the University of Kent.

Pantomime came to Britain in the 16th century having started out as a form of Italian street theatre or Commedia dell’arte. Over the centuries it has developed into a much loved tradition and for many of us this popular genre was our first experience of the world of theatre.

Developed in partnership with the University of Kent Special Collections & Archives department, this new exhibition runs from 25th November 2017 and will feature items from the David Drummond collection. Recently acquired by the University of Kent, it is one of the largest collections of pantomime related material in the UK and includes posters, props, programmes and costume designs spanning over two hundred years.

The exhibition will also feature a special section presented by David Drummond celebrating the life and work of Joseph Grimaldi. An influential figure from the world of pantomime, Grimaldi expanded and developed the role of the Clown within the harlequinade genre throughout the early 1800s. The Beaney will also be showcasing items from its own collection as part of the exhibition.

Interactive spaces will allow visitors of all ages to immerse themselves in the genre and include Widow Twankey’s Launderette, Dick Whittington’s Road to London and the Giant’s Library. Children and the young at heart will also be able to enjoy pantomime themed dressing up and colouring as well as a Dick Whittington themed trail around the Beaney.

The exhibition will also be home to a graphical timeline tracking the people and wider historical events that have shaped and influenced pantomime since the 1700s. The timeline will conclude with an area featuring current set and costume designs kindly loaned by Evolution Productions.

Emily Wood and Paul Hendy started Evolution Productions in 2005 and have since built a reputation for superior, bespoke pantomimes with the emphasis on high quality production values, strong casting and genuinely funny scripts.

The exhibition coincides with Canterbury’s 2017 pantomime, Peter Pan, which runs from 24th November at the Marlowe Theatre.

Paul Hendy said:

We are absolutely thrilled to be working with the Beaney on this incredible pantomime exhibition. I was lucky enough to be given a sneak preview of some of the exhibits and it’s a marvellous insight into British culture over the last 150 years. Pantomime is a truly unique British tradition and it’s wonderful that it is being celebrated in this way.”

Joanna Jones, Director of Museums and Galleries for Canterbury City Council said: 

“We’re delighted to be working with key partners to celebrate Canterbury’s long association with pantomime through this hands on exhibition. The Beaney exhibition and the Marlowe Theatre’s pantomime are complementary activities, providing a great day out for families and other audiences to enjoy during the festive season.”

Oh Yes It Is! is free to the public and runs from Saturday 25th November to Sunday 18th February 2018 in the Special Exhibitions Room at The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge.

A Beaney exhibition organised in partnership with the University of Kent Special Collections & Archives department, with special thanks to Evolution Productions.

Co-curated with Jo Dyer, Animate Arts Company.

Location: The Special Exhibitions Room, The Beaney