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Winter

The joys of panto

By | Christmas, dance & Art, Winter | No Comments
by Mark Phillips
Ropetackle Arts Centre
Images by Richie Mountain

Pantomime is a curious British institution. Each year as we head into Christmas, theatres up and down the country start planning their festive finales; a magical mix of comedy, music, drama and spectacle, all aimed at bringing families together and sparking imaginations.

The funny thing about panto, or should I say one of the many funny things, is that it’s neither originally British, nor anything to do with Christmas. In fact, British panto emerged from Italy, and specifically the Commedia dell’arte – an ancient theatre show of improvised comedy. Commedia dell’arte featured a range of stock characters which today we recognise as the dame, the villain, the hero, the fairy and so on. As for being a Christmas tradition, well, that remains something of a mystery. While pantos have always been performed during holiday seasons, one theory suggests the Italian form merged with an ancient English folk play traditionally performed around Christmas time, and featuring several stock characters similar to those in Commedia dell’arte.

So, that’s enough history, how do pantos remain such an enduring feature of our festive calendars? Well, there are many reasons. Panto nowadays is very much a family affair, particularly geared towards entertaining children but always amusing the adults (innuendo, anyone?) Pantos draw from a wide pool of fairy tales from all over the world. English stories such as Dick Whittington and Jack and the Beanstalk stand alongside European tales like Cinderella and Puss in Boots. One of the most popular pantos, Aladdin, is an ancient folk tale from the Middle East! Add to this modern twists on classic novels such as Treasure Island and Peter Pan, and you’ve no shortage of enchanting adventures to choose from.

The magic of panto is not just in the story, it’s in the whole experience. Pantos are a chance for families to share quality time together. With increasingly busy lifestyles and the demands of work, time together as a family is a precious thing, and panto is a chance to treasure it. Pantos make the imagined real. For around two hours, families can escape from reality and immerse themselves in a fantastical world of fun, magic, excitement and togetherness. The traditional battle of good versus evil underscores every panto. And even though we all know who wins, there is nothing quite so uplifting as seeing these morals reaffirmed. But not so fast, there’s tension, there’s anticipation, there’s always what if… So the shared sense of happiness that eventually fills the auditorium is palpable, and for children – the triumph of good over evil is a powerful message of hope and inspiration.

Of course, nothing is quite what it seems in panto, and this is perhaps its most joyful quality – the chance to join in! Panto wouldn’t be panto without audience participation. With the fourth wall well and truly dismantled, the unexpected is laid out before you. Unlike other shows, you can shape the turn of events (well, kind of). Will the dame look behind herself? Will the hero know where to turn? Will the villain ever get the message (booooo)!? Boys and girls, it’s over to you. There’s nothing quite like the passion of children, energised by a gripping story and moved to cheer, jeer, laugh, sing and, in some instances, give frank advice (don’t you just love them). Participation like this makes the magic of panto just that bit more real.

So that’s why after all these years, panto is still going strong. It’s little wonder that celebrities (cough) line up to play leading roles, but more than this, many panto companies now feature local children in their productions. Companies that support this give children vital opportunities to benefit from the developmental and creative fulfilment of theatre and arts participation. Look out for local auditions and drama groups and get your children involved now. Drama improves children’s well-being in many ways, and panto is the perfect platform for aspiring performers. But remember, being in the audience is just as much fun as being on stage at panto, so whatever your inclination, panto has it covered.

And there you have it. The joys of panto. That curious, British-but-kind-of-Italian, Christmas-but-let-me-come-back-to-you-on-that, magical, interactive theatrical fairy tale extravaganza. Full of love, happiness, courage, fear, comedy, farce, triumph and festivity. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without it. But if you’re still debating whether it’s worth visiting the panto this year, listen up. Boys and girls, you know what to do, altogether now… “Oh yes it is!”

Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham offers a year-round programme of family events including its Christmas panto – discover what’s on
www.ropetacklecentre.co.uk

 

There’s a puncture out there with your name on it!

By | family, Health, Safety, Uncategorized, Winter | No Comments

So said the marketing campaign from Bridgestone at the launch of DriveGuard, their “game changing tyre innovation, which places safety and convenience in every driver’s seat. ”Contentious comment? Yes! Good solution for safer family driving? Read on and find out what we thought…

On average, every driver can expect to have six punctures in their lifetime and 27% of all roadside emergencies are tyre related. And don’t forget, a flat is not just an inconvenience. If a puncture happens rapidly, you have less control, less braking capability and are more susceptible to the prevailing road conditions. If it happens slowly, you may not even be aware you have a puncture for some time. That can affect your fuel consumption, road handling and even braking distances, particularly in wet or icy conditions. That is why all cars made after November 2014 are now required by law to have a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) built in. There are a variety of systems from the various car manufacturers as well as third party products that can be retro-fi tted to older vehicles, but fundamentally the TPMS alerts the driver that tyre pressure is low and that there may be a problem with one or more of your tyres. Over time, all tyres will lose pressure, including your often forgotten spare, so regularly check and top up your pressures as per your car manufacturers recommended levels. Whether you’re on the school run, driving to work, going home or meeting with friends – there’s never a convenient time for a puncture. In fact, in 23% of cases, punctures happen during the evening or late at night which adds additional stress and anxiety to the situation. Of these, more than 50% happen in inconvenient locations and no driver wants to fi nd themselves stranded, changing their tyre on the side of a busy road, in the dirt, in the rain, in the dark. Particularly if you’ve a young family on board. It’s perhaps no surprise that 72% of women and 33% of men don’t change their own tyre. However, if there’s no cellphone reception to call for assistance – you’re on your own!Where is the spare? Has it any air in it? Is it under all the luggage? Where are the locknut keys? Where is the jack? No wheel spanner! Is that skinny temporary thing really the spare? You fill it with what!?
With over 60% of drivers experiencing a puncture in the last four years – leading to feelings of helplessness and insecurity combined with lost time of up to three hours – the Bridgestone team have comeup with a very, very good answer to the problem. DriveGuard can, in practically all conditions, help prevent accidents resulting from punctures, sudden loss of pressure or other types of tyre damage. It provides a safe and reliable solution, allowing drivers to wipe their hands clean of inconvenient puncture scenarios.So how does it work?
At the moment of puncture, you still have complete control over the vehicle and are made aware of the problem by your PTMS on the dash. You can continue to move with the traffic without immediately having to pull over or risk driving on and shredding the tyre. A flat tyre leads to rubber deformation which generates heat or friction; by using a special patented compound, Bridgestone has created a high-tech cooling fi n design in the sidewall that channels the increased heat from the sidewall towards the rim and thus helps to preserve the tyre.Based on state of the art technology, DriveGuard’s sophisticated tread pattern helps evacuate water to resist hydroplaning, while engineered sipes increase the number of biting edges to enhance wet road traction. As a result, Bridgestone DriveGuard has achieved the highest rating in wet grip performance (EU Tyre Label: A grade) with short braking distances, while offering a level of comfort comparable to conventional tyres, placing it at the frontline of road safety.The new age DriveGuard technology uses a proprietary high-tech cooling fin design as well as supportive and tough reinforced sidewalls which allow drivers to maintain control and continue driving safely and comfortably for 80km at up to 80kmph (50 miles at 50mph) after a puncture; fast enough and long enough to arrive safely at their desired destination or to seek assistance at a convenient service point.We drove a standard saloon car, with a deliberately punctured tyre for over 10km, and it handled just like a normal car. In fact, one of the other review teams managed to have a SECOND puncture during testing, and drove trouble free with both front tyres blown!“Bridgestone DriveGuard empowers you to keep moving and avoid the immediate burden and unsafe circumstances of a fl at tyre; drivers get to choose when and where they have their tyre replaced – within the indicated speed and distance limits. Our revolutionary new technology will considerably contribute to road safety and give drivers additional peace of mind and convenience while on the road,” said Eduardo Minardi, Executive Chairman of Bridgestone EMEA. Bridgestone DriveGuard eliminates the need to carry a spare tyre and is environmentally conscious due to being fully recyclable. That means less weight so less fuel and 20% fewer tyres required per car so less material required.Despite the impressive safety benefi ts and convenience advantages, a full set is only marginally more expensive than any other premium tyres of the same size. Your vehicle will be safer, lighter and have more space on board.So, in our opinion Driveguard offers a major contribution to road safety and all family cars should have them fi tted whenever practically possible!
www.bridgestone.co.uk
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www.linkedin.com/company/bridgestone-europe