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Panto hits Las Vegas! How livestreaming is transforming the stage

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February 25, 2021 at 01:05PM

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It was meant to provide theatres with a lifeline during Covid. But livestreaming is now giving them extraordinary reach. Can it be sustained – and could it turn out to be a new existential threat?

As Christmas season dawned at the end of last year, two American critics had a crash course in that most British of theatre traditions, pantomime, dropping in remotely to eight shows for the New York Times. “I felt like an ethnographer studying a foreign culture’s strange ceremonies,” wrote one, while the other enjoyed the peppering of Covid-related jokes, including the insertion of “fiiiiiive toilet rolls” into The 12 Days of Christmas.

The song featured in Oh Yes We Are!, Perth theatre’s four-scene mini-panto intended for small groups in a promenade performance, after the first lockdown made its Cinderella, on a conventional stage, impossible. But just as rehearsals were due to begin, new restrictions forced it online.

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