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Panto Princesses Make a Stand for #MeToo

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Last year, the Portobello Pantomime, an annual, community-led show which raises money for local charities, decided to brainstorm an idea based around the #MeToo campaign.

The troupe has been in existence for over 30 years and features a changing cast, some of whom include local luminaries such as Lily Allen, Tom Hollander, Kate Moss, Mick Jones, Sienna Miller and many others. It has also raised thousands of pounds for a variety of charities, including The Shepherds Bush Families Project, Solace Women’s Aid, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Grenfell United.

 

Above: The Furytale princesses, with Kitty Wordsworth, far left. 

 

On the Portobello Panto stage in December 2017 long time cast member and Panto producer for the last four years, Kitty Wordsworth, realised it was time to speak out in solidarity with women all over the globe about decades of sexual harassment and abuse. So, the #MeToo rock anthem, called Once Upon A Time’s Up and sung by The Furytales, was born, made in conjunction with Safe Gigs for Women.

"It was born out of a conversation I was having with the lyricist Maud Dromgoole about the the toxicity of the fairytales we grew up with," says Wordsworth. "In this post-Weinstein age of 'Times Up Now' and the growth of the #MeToo movement (which started in 2006!), conversations about sexual abuse and harassment are entering into the mainstream and popular culture in a way they haven't before. It's now crucial to reassess those problematic stories and narratives we have been fed from a young age and consider how they have contributed to the way men and women behave.

 


"Just because you want to dress up like a princess, doesn't mean you need to subscribe to some male-perceived idea of how you should behave. Anyway, I asked Maud to write a song for a group of princesses about their frankly-not-acceptable experiences with their princes for the Panto I was producing. [Co-producer] Molly Eagles and I created the scene along with the Princesses and it was such a hit we decided to immortalise it in a short film/music video! The amazing Denna Cartamkhoob came on board as our director and we shot it with an incredible skeleton crew in one day. We built the narrative around the music studio so we could record the song on the same day as the film."

So, with lots of attitude, and a bit of rock 'n’ roll, the princesses sang about their experiences with their not-so-Prince-Charmings. "We wanted to engage audiences (young and old) to question the fairy-tales that we teach young girls; to deconstruct these glossed over narratives and look at the disturbing realities at the centre," adds Wordsworth. 

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