The good news for drama students coming up to graduation is that at Christmas there is loads of festive work for actors up and down the country, writes Graham Bennett.
Theatres have big cast productions and are playing to packed houses, but what is it pulling in those audiences? Pantomime of course, such a uniquely British popular entertainment. Pantomimes are fun to be in and could guarantee you several weeks of work.
So how do you get a job in a panto? Well you need to start planning before you graduate from drama school as most principal roles in panto are cast by June, so as well as working on your graduation shows you should already have contacted some producers.
Most of the major theatres use specialist pantomime producers to put their shows on. This is great because you don't have to contact so many people. The largest is Qdos, who present over 20 major productions at No 1 theatres, but there are many others including First Family, UK Productions, Spillers Pantomimes, Hiss and Boo, Imagine Theatre, New Pantomime Productions, Evolution Pantomimes and Paul Holman associates. Many theatres also produce their own in-house, so you would need to contact those directly. A great resource packed with information and news about what theatres are putting on at Christmas is www.its-behind-you.com
Don't worry if you don't have an agent yet, producers are always looking for new young talent, but what you do need is that – talent. Ideally you should be an all-rounder – acting of course, but also a good strong singing voice, stage presence and dance or movement skills. Also invaluable is experience in working with young audiences – they can be very boisterous, so make sure you have done something similar at drama school and highlight it in your CV. Producers will want to see that you have worked with a family audience.
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