Over 3,000 knitted fish used during the Georgian Theatre Royal’s recent pantomime have been given a new lease of life and continue to spread joy within the local community.
The fish were knitted by volunteers for the festive production of Pinocchio. However, once the final curtain came down they were no longer needed so the theatre set about finding them new homes.
Some went to Kiplin Hall for a forthcoming display and the remainder went to four local nurseries – Rooftops Nursery and Midget Gems in Richmond, Little Learners Nursery Centre in Scorton and Banana Moon Nursery at Catterick.
Others were taken away by audience members in the last week of the show for a small donation that will be used to support the historic theatre, which is a registered charity.
“People put such a lot of time and effort into knitting for us that we make it our mission to find appreciative and loving homes for each and every one of the knitted objects,” said Clare Allen, chief executive of the theatre and the pantomime’s director.
“During the show, the audience threw the fish onto the stage into the mouth of the whale to make it cough up Pinocchio and friends.
“It was a real highlight of each performance and the cause of much hilarity. It is therefore very fitting that the fish will now continue to give pleasure and enjoyment to many more people.”
The nurseries will be using the fish in lots of different ways to support various learning and recreational activities.
“We are delighted to have been given all these wonderful fish,” said Sabrina Geraghty, deputy manager at Little Learners Nursery in Scorton.
“The children love them and they will be useful not only for soft play but also for matching, counting and pattern recognition. The possibilities are endless. It is amazing how many different colours and types of fish there are.”
Using knitted props is a long-standing tradition at the historic theatre and many people get involved in their creation. Over the years, there have been bananas, apples, leaves, doughnuts and even a huge patchwork blanket that covered the auditorium when the audience were put to sleep in the 2018 production of Sleeping Beauty.
While most of the fish were made by locals, a surprising number were sent from much further afield with packages arriving from all over the UK and abroad. This year’s donations included some beautiful rainbow fish from the town of Trondheim in Norway. The lady who knit them was also able to see her fish in action when she visited Richmond between Christmas and New Year.
“One of the great things about our pantomime is that it involves the whole community,” said Clare Allen. “We also run an annual children’s pantomime arts and crafts competition, local children perform as part of the young company, and the pantomime itself is enjoyed by all ages with parents, grandparents and even great grandparents coming together to celebrate this much-loved festive tradition.
“We have yet to announce what people will be knitting for the 2023 production of Rapunzel, but rest assured that knitting will – in some shape or form – be an important part of the action. We are so very grateful to all those who have knitted for us over the years, We really appreciate all the love, time and effort that goes into producing these magnificent props.” she added.
Tickets are now on sale for Rapunzel, which runs from Wednesday 6 December 2023 until Sunday 7 January 2024.
Tickets are available from the Box Office on 01748 825252 or via the online booking service at www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk