30th November 2007 at 00:00
As an art form, it's been around for over 150 years but despite stiff competition from television, cinema and DVDs, the traditional pantomime is more than holding its own as a Christmas entertainment.

East Ayrshire Council is one local authority that uses pantomime as a focus for arts development with young people and its third annual Pantomania Day takes place tomorrow at the Palace Theatre complex in Kilmarnock.

The all-day session, for children aged 8-12, runs from 10am-4pm, ending with a 10-minute presentation to family and friends in the Grand Hall where, in costume and with a stage backdrop and lights, participants show off what they've learnt.

Michelle Laats, the council's performing arts development officer, says: "The aim of Pantomania Day is to create a panto in a day, which will be loosely based on Beauty and the Beast - this year's show at the Palace Theatre. The kids will use some music and scenes from the panto and will work with our arts development team on the basic elements of pantomime, including song and dance, slapstick comedy and make-up."

Panto workshops are also being offered to schools which are going to see Beauty and the Beast. Aimed at five to 12-year-olds, and running from December 3-7, the workshops not only deal with the practical elements of panto, but also explore the characters that feature in the production.

This story has been traced back to the 5th century, with the first published version of the fairy tale - of a handsome prince turned into a monster by a wicked witch - appearing in 1740.

T: 01563 554900.

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