Summer-panto theatre group Bielefeld

Do you speak English?

Do you want to get to know some other English speakers in Bielefeld who have a wacky side?

Can you be silly in front of an audience of mainly children?

Can you improvise and laugh when things go wrong?

Can you not do those two things above, but would like to meet wacky people anyway, and are willing to be in charge of something like music, catering, or promotion?

Do you have time for two Zoom calls in spring, three or four rehearsals, and two performances in summer?

Then come join our English-speaking theatre group!

What is a panto?

Panto is short for pantomime, but don’t let that name fool you, it has very little to do with the black-and-white mimes you might see in old films or on touristy squares in Italy. Instead, it is a kind of kids’ comedy that is performed around Christmas.

There are lots of elements that come back every year (this is the UK we are talking about, after all, we love ourselves a bit of tradition) like a dame (a man dressed up in women’s clothing), some light political satire for the grown ups, and having the children shout “he’s behind you!!”.

See the video for more information, but for goodness’ sake don’t think that I am trying to set up anything this fancy in Bielefeld!

What is a summer panto?

A completely made-up thing by me, Heddwen.

I saw an amazingly fun English rendition of the Princess Bride in the summer of 2023 on the grounds of the Sparrenburg, and I’d like to totally steal the idea for the location and the summer timing.

The Princess Bride was gorgeous, with music and lighting and costumes. The actors had learned and rehearsed a 90-minute script and practised complicated sword fighting choreographies. It was great. If they do it again next year, I highly recommend it!

I want to do something much more low-effort.

I’m thinking: aimed at kids. People being silly. Audience participation. Laughing and improvising when things go wrong.

I’m thinking: one or two Zoom calls to exchange ideas. Three or four rehearsals to do some improv, have fun, and get the basics right. A basic script with a “frame story”. No lighting. Costumes and props organised by the actors. A boombox, laptop and volunteer for the music.

I’m thinking: Two performances on a summer weekend afternoon, entertain the children, go out for beers afterwards.

I have a basic script in mind that leaves room for sketches by individuals and small groups.

Do I need to have experience?

I could do with a few people with experience, but any fun-loving English speaker is welcome. You need to be willing to be silly in front of an audience. Oh, and you need to be able to speak English, of course.

Will there be auditions?

Yes, I think so, but more to make sure that the group is balanced, and that certain roles are filled, than to check for “talent”. The only talent I need from you is that you are able to be silly! Kids love silly.

I have a few roles in mind already:

  • a native German speaker with a good loud voice, who would interpret the basics for the audience. We are sure to have some kids who won’t be able to follow the whole story in English, and they are going to need some help. (Also: family members. I know my parents-in-law would like to come and see what I am up to, and they don’t speak any English, bless them.)
  • a dame (of course) Though the script I have in mind will have the dame be a cat, rather than a woman.
  • anybody who has a good idea for a sketch. For example: a short magic show (kids love magic shows!), a performance of any kids’ song, such as head-shoulders-knees and toes, juggling, lip-syncing.
  • plenty of other roles that we will come up with together

I’d love to be part of the group, but I don’t think I can be silly in front of an audience

I definitely need one person to be in charge of the music. Your job would be to sit in front with a laptop and press “play” at certain moments in the play.

Other possible roles, in order of importance:

  • PR person (make leaflets, promote play on social media)
  • Stage manager (tell the actors when to come on stage)
  • Costumes
  • Props
  • Catering
  • Photographer/ videographer (to document our, you know, journey)
  • Set design
  • Make-up

You can also join and just be our audience during rehearsals and give us feedback on what is funny and what is not.

Are there any age restrictions?

The group is for adults.

Teenagers are welcome, but only if a parent or guardian is with them.

This group is not for children under 13. Á drama group for children is a whole different kettle of fish. I can imagine starting an English drama group for kids if there is enough demand, reach out and let me know.

Sounds great, how do I join?

Leave a message in the comment section below, or email me on theatre (at) heddwennewton.com.