Locals outraged after village Christmas panto cancelled over ‘woke brigade cultural insensitivity’

Locals outraged after village Christmas panto cancelled over ‘woke brigade cultural insensitivity’

EXCLUSIVE: Furious villagers accuse Christmas panto organisers of bowing to the ‘woke brigade’ after cancelling Aladdin production amid complaints about ‘cultural insensitivity’

  • EXCLUSIVE: Village Christmas panto cancelled over ‘cultural insensitivity’ 
  • Outraged locals say they’re baffled as to what could have been inappropriate
  • Organisers have now been accused of bowing to ‘woke brigade’ over decision 
  • Critic said: ‘Difficult to see how any panto would not enrage the ”Woke” brigade’ 
  • The cast had spent weeks learning their lines before the shock cancellation 
  • Parents were forced to have ‘difficult conversations’ with their children

Organisers of a village Christmas panto have been accused of bowing to the ‘woke brigade’ after abruptly cancelling this year’s production of Aladdin following complaints about ‘cultural insensitivity’.

Outraged villagers in Ansty, near Dorchester, are baffled as to what provoked the protests which brought the curtain down on the pantomime after more than 40 years.

‘This is a sleepy Dorset village and everyone is asking what exactly is so offensive,’ said one mother, whose daughter was in the play and had spent weeks learning her lines.

The director, Jenny Norman, dropped the bombshell on the village’s public Facebook group yesterday, saying: ‘CANCELLED It is with regret that [community group] MADCAP has found it necessary to cancel this year’s production of Aladdin following expressions of unease about cultural insensitivity that were made to the cast.

‘Consideration was given to ”sanitising” the script but the cast considered this was not in keepin with the tradition of pantomime.’

The past two pantos were online due to Covid restrictions, so locals  in the small town were excited for the event to return to normal

Organisers of a village Christmas panto have been accused of bowing to the 'woke brigade' after abruptly cancelling this year's production of Aladdin following complaints about 'cultural insensitivity'

Organisers of a village Christmas panto have been accused of bowing to the ‘woke brigade’ after abruptly cancelling this year’s production of Aladdin following complaints about ‘cultural insensitivity’

Ticket holders have been offered a full refund of the production, based on a script written by a local woman.

One resident told MailOnline: ‘I have a copy of the script and I’ve been poring through it, trying to work out what the problem was.

‘There’s a joke about a woman spending money on her husband’s credit card – does that mean 50 per cent of the population is outraged? Is the very idea of Aladdin now considered ”culturally insensitive”? I really don’t know.

‘There’s a mention of the Arabian Nights – are we allowed to say ”Arabia” any more? I’m stumped!’.

Other locals erupted in fury and disbelief on Facebook, demanding a rethink.

Doug Forsyth commented: ‘It seems rather undemocratic that everyone’s enjoyment is to be curtailed for the sake of those objectors I assume more than one.

Outraged villagers in Ansty, near Dorchester, are baffled as to what provoked the protests which brought the curtain down on the pantomime after more than 40 years (pictured, a previous panto production)

Outraged villagers in Ansty, near Dorchester, are baffled as to what provoked the protests which brought the curtain down on the pantomime after more than 40 years (pictured, a previous panto production)

The Christmas panto in Ansty is a more than 40-year tradition

 The Christmas panto in Ansty is a more than 40-year tradition

Jenny Norman dropped the bombshell on the village's public Facebook group yesterday, saying: 'CANCELLED It is with regret that [community group] MADCAP has found it necessary to cancel this year's production of Aladdin following expressions of unease about cultural insensitivity that were made to the cast

Jenny Norman dropped the bombshell on the village’s public Facebook group yesterday, saying: ‘CANCELLED It is with regret that [community group] MADCAP has found it necessary to cancel this year’s production of Aladdin following expressions of unease about cultural insensitivity that were made to the cast

‘Whilst registering their sensitivities, those who would prefer to go ahead should also have their voice heard. I propose an open vote as to cancellation or not.

‘I would object to the majority being steered along a path by a nameless minority (assuming that it is a minority) and a British tradition being cast aside on the WOKE alter. Rant over..’

Another resident David Norman said: ‘It’s difficult to see how any pantomime would not enrage the ”Woke” brigade even if we went to ‘Snow Neutral and the 7 non- binary vertically challenged humanoids’.

Villager Vicky Jones added: ‘I feel so sorry to everyone who has put so much time and effort into this. Especially the children who won’t understand why they aren’t now acting.’

Local mum Kate Hill said: ‘It’s a very difficult conversation to have with a 7 year old who has overcome many challenges to learn their lines!’

Amanda Ross asked: ‘Please could it made known on this group chat the exact nature of that which is deemed so ‘culturally insensitive ‘ and how this came about; because on first reading this appears absolutely ridiculous.’ 

The panto was due to be held in a local hall over two days in early December prior to the cancellation

The panto was due to be held in a local hall over two days in early December prior to the cancellation

Contacted by MailOnline, Ms Norman (pictured) refused to comment, saying only: 'I don't want to talk about it, it's not appropriate. The decision was made to cancel

Contacted by MailOnline, Ms Norman (pictured) refused to comment, saying only: ‘I don’t want to talk about it, it’s not appropriate. The decision was made to cancel

Annette Drake commented: ‘What a way to spoil our village traditions.’

Jacqueline Meneghini Relf said: ‘I would agree that being hurtful to other cultures should always be on people’s mind and avoided, however not finding a compromise and cancelling such a joyful event, seems quite extreme measures.’

Others pointed out that there were similar pantos being held nationwide without complaints.

Sue Cotterell said: ‘This is as confusing as it upsetting. Please may we have a much better explanation of the complaints of insensitivity and more detail as to what was feared to be the problem.

‘It is quite plain that versions of Aladdin appear every year throughout the country seemingly without issue. I think it is essential that we should understand exactly what the concerns are – and why particularly the decision to cancel was taken. ‘

Critics pointed out that there were similar pantos being held nationwide without complaints. Pictured: A previous panto that went ahead with no complaints

Critics pointed out that there were similar pantos being held nationwide without complaints. Pictured: A previous panto that went ahead with no complaints

All tickets to the panto will be refunded after the disappointing update

All tickets to the panto will be refunded after the disappointing update 

Mary Godwin Hepworth said: ‘Such dedication was made by so many people to continue this tradition. What on Earth is this world coming to? I feel gutted for those involved and have enormous sympathy for them all.’

Another local, Lavinia Lindley, wrote: ‘Those who think it’s culturally insensitive don’t need to attend – it’s their choice…’

Recently, the forthcoming live panto was announced by Ms Norman with a triumphant rallying cry on Facebook, following two years of online shows because of the pandemic.

She said: ‘We are rehearsing furiously and so looking forward to giving you live action and lots of fun after 2 years of Zooming pantomimes to you.

‘The children are working hard learning their lines and songs and so excited to be on the stage.

‘The pantomime has been a feature of our Christmases in the local area for 41 years. Let’s get behind it again after Covid and celebrate the live performances and talented people who are giving their all.’

There would have been three shows on Friday and Saturday, December 9th and 10th in Ansty’s Old Brewery Hall.

Contacted by MailOnline, Ms Norman refused to comment, saying only: ‘I don’t want to talk about it, it’s not appropriate. The decision was made to cancel, that’s the only reason anything was put on Facebook about it. I don’t want to comment further, thankyou.’

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Nick Craven

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