Local nurseries and a wildlife charity have given new homes to the hundreds of knitted lightbulbs that were used during the Georgian Theatre Royal’s recent pantomime.
The lightbulbs were knitted by the community for the production of Aladdin, which ran for 57 shows, but when the pantomime season came to an end they were no longer needed and so the theatre asked around for willing takers.
Among those to take up the offer were two local nursery schools – Little Learners Nursery Centre in Scorton and Richmond’s Trinity Academy Nursery.
Lightbulbs have also gone to the RSPB nature reserve at Saltholme, near Stockton-on-Tees, for yarn bombing displays.
“People put such a lot of time and effort into knitting for us that we are always keen to find new and appreciative homes for each and every item,” said Clare Allen, chief executive of the Georgian Theatre Royal and the pantomime’s director.
“Our audiences had such fun with the lightbulbs (throwing them at the baddie) so it is very fitting that they will now be enjoyed by both the nursery school children and visitors to the Saltholme nature reserve.
“It’s also a wonderful way to recycle.”
Both nurseries have been able to use the lightbulbs in many different ways to support various learning and recreational activities.
“We are delighted to have all these fantastic objects,” said Rachel Freeman, pre-school unit leader and early years teacher at Little Learners Nursery.
“Some will be used in the maths area for matching, counting and sorting colours, and others will be used during imaginative play or for arts and crafts initiatives such as sewing, threading and creating faces.”
This is the fifth year that knitted props from the pantomime have found their way to the Saltholme nature reserve.
In 2016, hundreds of leaves from Jack and the Beanstalk were used in displays around the site and since then the reserve has used apples from Snow White, doughnuts from The Wizard of Oz and knitted squares from the giant blanket made for Sleeping Beauty.
Using knitted props – often as missiles to be hurled onto the stage by the audience at a key point in the show – is a long-standing tradition at the Theatre and many people get involved in their production.
Most are made by locals but a surprising number are sent from much further afield with packages arriving from all over the UK and abroad. This year’s knitting appeal was even picked up by the national magazine Simply Knitting which generated even more widespread interest.
“One of the great things about our pantomime is that it involves the whole community,” said Clare Allen.
“As soon as we announced the title of this year’s production, which is Beauty and the Beast, our regular knitters asked what they will be making. We will, of course, let people know as soon as possible.” she added.
Tickets go on public sale on Saturday 1 February for Beauty and the Beast, which runs from Friday 4 December 2020 until Sunday 10 January 2021.
Tickets are available from the Box Office on 01748 825252 or via the online booking service at www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk