Archives enriched by donation from world’s first Muslim Pantomime

Katherine Moss

The University’s David Drummond Pantomime Collection – the country’s largest pantomime archive – is adding Cinder’Aliyah: The Great Muslim Pantomime to its archives.

A reworking of the classic fairy-tale Cinderella, Cinder’Aliyah is the UK’s only Muslim Pantomime. It’s addition to Kent’s Special Collections and archives is a historic moment and further highlights the increasing diversity of British pantomime and its ability to both entertain and educate.

The award-winning Muslim pantomime is produced and run by the international award-winning charity Penny Appeal, and the show’s proceeds will be raising funds for survivors of the devastating floods that recently hit Pakistan.

Following the tour, items from the show including costumes and show posters will be donated to the Kent’s Special Collections and Archives and made available for viewing by students, academics, and theatre practitioners. It is hoped that it will inspire future generations of performers, writers, and audiences alike.

Beth Astridge, University Archivist, said: ‘We are delighted to receive this donation from this fantastic pantomime to Kent’s Special Collections and Archives, to preserve it for the future, and make it available for research and public enjoyment. Pantomime has been a long-standing research and teaching strength here, and we are lucky to have such incredible collections at our fingertips.

‘This newest addition will enable us to continue our important work to accurately represent the voices and perspectives of our communities and audiences within our archive collections, allowing us to celebrate cultural diversity and support new research in the history and current performance of pantomime. As the recent AHRC project, Beyond the Binary, has shown, by working hands-on in the archives, together with diverse communities and practitioners, we continue to open up new understandings of this traditional and ever-changing performance genre.’

Writer and director Abdullah Afzal – best known for starring in BBC’s Citizen Khan – said: ‘We’re grateful and delighted to be the first Muslim-themed pantomime within this historic collection. Modern Britain is a beacon of inclusivity and diversity, so it only feels right that we should reflect this within our theatre history. Cinder’Aliyah is an incredibly light-hearted yet educational take on the classic fairy-tale, and it’s great that this will be recorded for generations to come. It’s a testament to the hard work of our cast and crew that this production is now part of British theatre history!’