The festive season might be many months away but the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond has brought forward the launch of its annual pantomime knitting appeal to give people something to do during their current confinement. The theatre has a long-standing tradition of incorporating knitted items into its pantomimes and the knitting element has become a much-loved community activity with hundreds of people taking part. Last year, thousands of knitted lightbulbs were made to throw at the baddie in Aladdin and previous productions have used apples, bananas, snowballs, doughnuts, leaves and patchwork squares. This year, the theatre is appealing for knitted hearts, which will be used during the 56 performances of Beauty and the Beast, taking place between Friday 4 December 2020 and Sunday 10 January 2021. “Several of our regular knitters have been in touch over the last few days to see if they can start knitting for the pantomime in order to pass the time during the coronavirus isolation period,” said Clare Allen, theatre manager and pantomime director.
“We normally launch the appeal at the end of the summer so that people can start knitting as the nights draw in but right now, as most of us are confined to our homes, does seem like an ideal time to get your needles out. “It is wonderful to think that (hopefully) by the time panto comes around, the current situation will be behind us and we will all be able to enjoy being together again and celebrate the warm, communal feel of pantomime. This year will feel extra special!” she added. Whilst the knitting is a popular activity for locals, contributions come from much further afield. Last year’s appeal even featured in a national knitting magazine, Simply Knitting, which resulted in many parcels of lightbulbs arriving from across the UK and even worldwide.
This year’s heart pattern has been road-tested by regular theatre knitter, Jen Capewell. I have now knitted three hearts and also had some friends try out the pattern. It is quite easy to do and can be adapted as people wish. “The hearts can be in all colours and made from different types of wool so it is an ideal project for using up odd bits of yarn. They can even be multi-coloured or stripy – just let your imaginations go wild!” Once the pantomime is over, the theatre always tries to find a good home for the knitted objects and last year’s lightbulbs went to the RSPB nature reserve at Saltholme and local nursery schools.
Anyone wanting to take part in the activity can visit the Theatre’s website on http://www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk/Shows/BeautytheBeast where the pattern is available to download. Alternatively, people can make up their own designs and all colours and sizes are welcomed.
Finished hearts should be handed in or sent to the Box Office when the Theatre is able to re-open again (The Georgian Theatre Royal, Victoria Road, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL10 4DW).
Please don’t post them or put them through the letterbox at the current time.
The final date for receipt of hearts is Saturday 28th November but please keep hold of them at home for now.
Tickets for Beauty and the Beast cost from £12 to £22 and are available via the online booking service at www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk