Way back in 2008, it was suggested by the then WIT Group, that we put on a small panto at Christmas time for the ladies. I’m not one to do thing by halves so of course, this evolved into a much larger production for the community and so it was ‘Snow Ak and the Seven Mustafa’s’ became the first ever pantomime to be performed here in Didim.

I wrote the script and used my penmanship to loosely merge the original story along with the goings on here in our little town. Twists and turns that included  dodgy emlaks, street dogs, TAPU problems and the like found their way into the scenes along with the theme tune ‘Domates Biber Patlican’ that was still ringing in the ears of the community for months afterward.  Did they know the cast were slightly plastered from too much ‘Dutch courage’?  I’m not sure but it was a lot of fun and a roaring success, so much so, there wasn’t even an inch of standing room in the audience……..A tradition had been born.

Christmas 2009 the lovely ‘Jinderella’ took to panto stage, joined by two ugly sisters that were dating bar boys.  The audience got to polish up on their Turkish by repetitive shouts of ‘It’s not Watermelon, its Karpuz’.  I’d upped the ante this time with a few dance routines; again these were aided by a few sneaky snifters by the cast. Yet, another success and the money to a good cause with the proceeds going into the coffers of the ‘Cocuklar Aglamasin’ (Don’t Cry Children) Charity.

2010 along came ‘Alad in Tinky Town’.  A very ambitious panto with lots of scenery changes that on occasion went disastrously wrong!  But hey, this was panto and the audience lapped up the mistakes even though backstage we had Diva tantrums and half empty vodka bottles.  That year not only did I add a few dances, I’d written a couple of little songs to be performed A cappella…….no wonder the cast hate me most of the time!

And here we are in 2011 and ‘Dick Withering in Didim’ is underway. This year, I have learned from past mistakes and cut down on the scenery changes.  However, I have upped the singing and dancing.  The dance routines I worked out at home first of course, handing them over at rehearsal ……so far so good.  We are into week 2 of rehearsals and all’s going well.  As usual, we have not had a full cast at rehearsals as yet due to some of them were winging their way back from the UK when we started and some having gone down with the dreadful Turkish Lergy, so I’m doing my fair share of standing in as well as directing.  The cast keep pushing for me to take a part and I am avoiding it like the plague, because, believe it or not, I’m definitely a behind the scenes person and being onstage now terrifies me! (The first year I got bullied into being in the cast and I spent my time onstage as Ayna the magic mirror, absolutely hating every minute of it, which blatantly shows on the video!)

At our penultimate rehearsal I made sure I got to the venue earlier than everyone else and spent half an hour practising the routines so that I could warm up.  Unfortunately I have a weak ankle from a car crash several years ago and it has a tendency to let me down (or should I say let me fall down!). However, my brain tells me that I went to dance school for 12 years and my feet can still do all the things they used to; It’s a deadly combination….

The dance routines went fine with no problems but, there are a couple of fight scenes that needed work (I think a few simple co-ordinated moves look far more professional than a general free for all). So there I am demonstrating the slow motion fighting and face pulling to match, when my ankles says ‘ok that’s enough’ and over I go on me aris (well that’s how we say it where I come from!).  Funny?….Yes very.  Painful?…. Not at the time (I had warmed up a bit remember).   A few hours later at home and there I was packing my foot in ice and propping it up on the sofa……must remember I am no longer 12!

As this year we have been using the basement of our office to practise in, I keep smiling at the thought of the Turkish staff upstairs returning to the village each night and  shouting ‘Sack Attack’ or ‘We want Dick’. ……..well, they did say they wanted to learn English 😉