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Campaign starts to ban Jack the Ripper pantomime from Norwich

PUBLISHED: 06:30 03 December 2015 | UPDATED: 16:24 03 December 2015

Spooky Kid Productions show Jack The Ripper The Panto. Picture: Supplied

Spooky Kid Productions show Jack The Ripper The Panto. Picture: Supplied

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Plans to stage a Jack the Ripper-inspired pantomime at a Norwich theatre have come under fire.

Norwich Playhouse. Photo: Benjamin Mathers.Norwich Playhouse. Photo: Benjamin Mathers.

The adult production, based on the 19th century serial killer, is due to take place at Norwich Playhouse from December 10 to 12 but the venue is facing pressure to scrap the show, with critics saying it mocks violence against women.

But both the theatre and production company have defended the show and have said the performances will go ahead as planned.

The campaign against the play is being led by Sophie Elliott, 23, who set up the petition urging Norwich Playhouse to stop the show after she first became aware of it via Facebook.

Miss Elliott, who works in a call centre and runs a feminist magazine called Parallel, said she was “shocked and a bit disgusted” when she researched the show online.

Sophie Elliott disagrees with Norwich Playhouse's Jack The Ripper The Panto.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYSophie Elliott disagrees with Norwich Playhouse's Jack The Ripper The Panto. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

She said: “I was surprised that somebody would give the go-ahead for something like that. It is turning violence against women and things like that into a joke. I find it surprising that in 2015 people still find that kind of thing funny and amusing.”

So far more than 250 supporters have backed the petition. It states: “We call for The Playhouse, Norwich, to cease selling tickets and allowing Jack the Ripper the Panto to be performed on their premises. Do not perpetuate rape culture more than it already is within our society.

“Do not desecrate the memories of the real-life victims of Jack the Ripper by turning him into the good-guy protagonist of a sexist and misogynistic stage show.”

Caroline Richardson, Norwich Playhouse director, said the organisation was “very sad” that some people think the theatre would put a show on its stage that pokes fun at violence against women.

“We think very carefully about the shows we programme here, and the comedy in Jack the Ripper the Panto may be not to everyone’s taste, but we would like to reassure the people who are worried that violence against women is not the butt of the joke, although obviously as it is a show about a murderer, murder will feature,” she said.

A statement from production company Spooky Kid Productions said: “Jack The Ripper The Panto categorically does not make a mockery of violence against sex workers and women, or participate in rape culture. We have performed the show in Norwich several times at two other theatres, to over 1,600 people from a broad range of backgrounds, and we have never had any complaints about the content of the panto.”

For more on the show, visit www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk, and view the petition at www.change.org

•What’s your view? You can leave your comments below and vote in our poll.

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