Astronomy Pantomime

In the UK we have a tradition of pantomime. Although the origins may extend to the ancient Greeks, modern pantomime originates in the Victorian era and is a comedic performance of a children's story usually performed in December or early January. They are mostly aimed at children but with some jokes for their parents too. A curious part of pantomime is that the lead male character is usually played by a young woman and there is always an elderly mother-figure (called the Dame) who is always played by a man.

Back in 2006, the Jodcast (the UK's first regular astronomy podcast) decided to share this tradition by book-ending the normal podcast with first and second acts of a pantomime. The Jodcast presenters put on their acting hats and produced a story loosely based on The Wizard of Oz but with a Jodcast slant. The next year we felt we should do another and so we presented our take on A Christmas Carol with the ghosts of Astronomy Past, Astronomy Now Present and Astronomy Future. Future years have seen Nick and the Intro Factory, Jenaddin (performed in front of a studio audience for Jodcast Live), Neil White and the Seven Dwarf Planets (with a cameo by dwarf planet finder Mike Brown), and this year's Jendarella.

I've extracted the pantomimes for posterity and included them below:

  • 2006: The Wizard of Oz (2.3MB) starring Ian Morison as the Narrator, Nick Rattenbury as the Great and Powerful Pod, Megan Argo as Dorothy, Tim O'Brien as Tim Man, Stuart Lowe as Stuart-crow, David Ault as Cowardly Dave, Mark Bruzee as HAL and Seth Adam Sher as Dave;
  • 2007: A Christmas Carol (2 MB) starring Ian Morison as the Narrator, David Ault as The Ghost of Astronomy Past, Nick Rattenbury as Bob Rattenbury, Stuart Lowe as Stuart Scrooge, Tim O'Brien as The Ghost of Jodcast Present and Mark Bruzee as HAL;
  • 2008: Nick and the Intro Factory (2.9MB) starring Tom Muxlow as the Narrator, Nick Rattenbury as Nicky Bucket, Tim O'Brien as Grandpa Tim, David Ault as Dave Wonka, Stuart Lowe as Stuart PC, Megan Argoas Megan Newshound, Roy Smits as Roy, Mark Bruzee as HAL, and Fiona Waller as M&S lift & Servelan.
  • 2009: Jenaddin (4.6MB) starring Chris Lintott as the Narrator, David Ault as Doctor Twankey, Jen Gupta as Jenaddin, Stuart Lowe as Prof Abanaza, Megan Argoas Princess Parkes, Neil Young as the Emperor, Lisa Hartley as the Empress, Paul Miyagawa as theGuard, Nick Rattenbury as the Genie;
  • 2010: Neil White and the Seven Dwarf Planets (2.1MB) starring Adam Avison as the Narrator, Neil Young as Prince Neil, Megan Argo as Eris, Jen Gupta as Ceres, Catherine McGuire as Haumea, Mark Purver as the Mirror, David Aultas the King and MakeMake, Ian Morison as 15727 IanMorison, and Mike Brown as himself;
  • 2011: Jendarella (3MB) starring Libby Jones as the Narrator, Jen Gupta as Jenderella, Stuart Lowe as Baron Cardiff, Melanie Gendre as Stepmother, Adam Avison and Mark Purver as the Ugly Sisters, Megan Argoas Fairy Jodmother, David Ault as Prince Professional Respect, Leo Huckvale and Christina Smith as extras.

You can hear the latest pantomime on the December 2011 edition of the Jodcast. Credit goes to all the people who've been on the Jodcast over the years and particularly David Ault who wrote the scripts.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Saturday 03rd Dec 2011 (13:04 GMT) | Permalink
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