New Watermans to Be 'Home Of Panto'
EU funding will make theatre 'global centre of excellence'
Watermans Art Centre will become the world's leading pantomime centre of excellence when it reopens at its new location according to well-placed sources.
It is believed to have been decided that the new theatre will drop the Watermans name entirely to become the National Theatre for Contemporary Pantomime, specialising in the art form all year round as opposed to just at Christmas and the New Year.
(The current Watermans Centre, above, will be converted into a marina and flats)
Recently, it was announced that the Watermans is to move from its current riverside centre to a home on the site of the old Brentford police station.
The move was decided after an Arts Council grant for the Watermans dried up, forcing new funding avenues to be considered. A bid was made to the EU Equalities committee in Brussels on the basis that pantomime as an art form promotes 'important cross-cultural experiences'. For example, the bid-makers successfully argued that characters like Widow Twankey and the Ugly Sisters makes pantomime uniquely inclusive of the transgender community.
A rival bid by an Italian commedia dell'arte group was booed and hissed offstage mid-presentation, while the Germans played the role of pantomime villain as they brushed aside demands for a new mime school in Athens to be funded from outstanding war reparations. The Greeks claimed to be the inventors of pantomime and therefore demanded the right to the extra funding but when asked if the art form originated in Greece the British delegation said, "Oh no it didn't".
The Greek delegation didn't leave empty handed as they were allocated surplus stock from the EU's magic bean mountain.
Sketch from the London Green web site showing the new Watermans plan and tall buildings
Inside sources have told us that they always intended for the new theatre to celebrate pantomime, a 'quintessentially English art form' with an illustrious tradition in this country going back to the Victorian era.
Eventually, it is hoped the National Theatre for Contemporary Pantomime (NTCP) will become a global centre for excellence in pantomime and related performance arts. The NTCP will perform shows like Dick Whittington and Aladdin all year round, making it the only venue in the world to show panto outside of the festive season.
Avril Amadan, a member of the People's Association of Pantomimers which has lobbied for a long time for such a national centre for harlequinadery, expressed her excitement at the new proposals. She said, "It's like a magic genie has made all our wishes come true. I recognise that some people aren't sure whether an all-year panto venue is commercially viable. To those people I say: 'Oh Yes It Is!'"
A source close to the existing management of Watermans said that though the old Arts Centre will be sorely missed, they are focused on a bright future, rather than dwelling on what's behind them. The developers are tight-lipped about how the new building will be opened to the public, but they are rumoured to have lined up a 'nationally-beloved panto star' to cut the red ribbon. If these plans fall through, it is believed organisers will ask Christopher Biggins to host instead.
April 1, 2015