Poster for Short Shorts Friday - 8pm Dec 6th Pentameters Theatre - Panto Season for writers


The panto season has started early this year. Everyone loves live entertainment.

(I’m even doing a live appearance myself on December 6th – more on this to the right and below).

Here in the UK our Christmas panto is an election that may well solve nothing. While in the States, Washington is putting on an impeachment as their Christmas play, with next year’s election campaigns already in full swing.

But, to be fair, in an age dominated by screens and ear-plugs, there is a surprising resurgence of entertainment where people come out of hiding.

Authors live

Myself, I’ve always found it fascinating to hear what authors really sound like.

I remember hearing a recording of TS Elliot reading from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. That book of cat poems of course became Cats the musical (and soon Cats the movie).

But his voice adds a whole new dimension. Not at all a professional actor’s reading, but a very interesting one.

Audiences live

It’s said that, a few years back, audiences got so used to talking over the TV that they started chatting in the theatre. But now theatre is going in the opposite direction – plunging audiences into TV shows!

I’ve just read a fascinating review of a theatre play – or perhaps that should be theatre experience – based on the TV series Stranger Things. Put on by the theatre group, Secret Cinema, it puts a live audience inside the drama.

Most of the show is a closely guarded secret. But it seems the story starts the moment you buy your online ticket. They cast you as a character; tell you what to wear and what to bring; and give you some other rather surprising prep.

Once you’ve arrived, you have a set of challenges, based on your character. And you interact with professional actors in roles based on the TV series itself.

Secret Cinema have been putting on live shows like this since 2007, to great acclaim.

Rocking-chair memories

It’s no secret that more conventional live theatre is also booming. Meanwhile, football fans pay small fortunes to watch top matches – even when they’re on TV at the same time. And bands now make more money from gigs than albums. A complete reversal of the past.

And why should we be surprised? We all know that live contact with other humans forms stronger memories.

A film producer friend talks of “rocking-chair memories” – those memories we’ll be happy to recall when we’re old and sitting in our rocking-chairs. How many people are going to sit on their porches in years to come, fondly remembering watching a TV cop show or listening to a download?

My rocking-chair memories include great concerts, classical and rock, great performance of plays and live readings from a surprising range of authors.

Which is one reason I love taking part in them myself.

Panto Season Shorts

As I mentioned, I’m doing one – Short Shorts Friday – on Friday December 6th, with a number of writer friends, corralled by the always persuasive Jan Woolf. We’ll be reading short stories and extracts from our books.

This is a sequel to the very first Short Shorts Friday in August, which was so successful they immediately booked us up for a new show in time for panto season.

8pm Friday December 6th 2019
Pentameters Theatre (above The Horseshoe)
28 Heath Street
Entrance Oriel Place
Hampstead, London NW3 6TE.
Tickets on the door, a mere £10.

Do come along if you’re in or near London that evening. Maybe it will be a memory for your rocking-chair.

Tell us what rocking-chair memories you have of live performances (and canned) – share them in the comments below.


Short Shorts Friday @ Pentameters

Secret Cinema