Muslim Pantomime Officially Recognised As Part Of British Culture

‘Cinder’Aliyah: The Great Muslim Pantomime’ has been added to Britain’s largest pantomime archive!

‘Cinder’Aliyah: The Great Muslim Pantomime’ has been added to Britain’s largest pantomime archive!

The UK’s only Muslim Pantomime is being added to the country’s largest pantomime archive, which spans four centuries of British pantomime history.

With Islam being the fastest-growing religion in Britain, this is welcome news.

The University of Kent’s David Drummond Pantomime Collection is adding Cinder’Aliyah: The Great Muslim Pantomime, which is a reworking of the classic fairy-tale Cinderella.

The inclusion of Cinder’Aliyah into the David Drummond Pantomime Collection is a historic moment, as it is the first Muslim-themed pantomime to be included in the archive. It further highlights the increasing diversity of British pantomime and its ability to both entertain and educate. The collection will make Cinder’Aliyah available for viewing by students, academics, and theatre practitioners. It is hoped that it will inspire future generations of performers, writers, and audiences alike.

The award-winning Muslim pantomime – touring from 9th December to 29th January across the country – was first performed in 2021 and has since been seen by thousands of people across the UK. It tells the tale of a young Pakistani girl trapped and exploited by her wicked stepmother and jealous stepsisters. Produced and run by the international award-winning charity Penny Appeal, 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 University of Kent’s Special Collections and Archives – a unique and distinctive collection of items that are preserved and made accessible for the benefit of teaching, scholarship and society.

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 archivestogether 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!”