7 December 2015 / Events

Camp as Christmas? Cross-Dressed Capers in Pantoland

The Maggie Collins Christmas Lecture

Presented by Simon Sladen 

In December 2013, the National Database of Pantomime Performance reported that only 10% of pantomimes that season cast a female Principal Boy, a marked decrease from the dominance of the breeches role in Victorian pantomime. But whilst female Principal Boys appear to be in decline, the Dame is more popular than ever with almost all productions of Peter Pan now integrating the stock character and making her a vital aspect of proceedings. Rooted firmly in the present, this talk will explore the world of the twenty-first century Dame and Principal Boy, whilst also considering the evolution and impact of the male Benevolent Agent. From slapstick to sequins, Simon Sladen provides an insight into some of our most loved and most transformed pantomime characters.

Simon Sladen is Assistant Curator, Modern and Contemporary Performance at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He is Pantomime Editor for the British Theatre Guide and Founder of National Panto Day, which this year celebrates its fifth anniversary with ‘The Year of the Dame’. He is also Curator of the National Database of Pantomime Performance, a project kindly funded and supported by the Society for Theatre Research.

Photograph by Graham Brandon of Steven Webb as Buttons and Sophia Nomvete as Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, Lyric Hammersmith, 2013. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


7 December 2015




The Art Workers' Guild, Queen Square, London, UK