Introduction: An Ugly Sweater Pantomime in Three Acts
Christmas wouldn't be the same without a visit to a Pantomime - Oh yes it would! The whole family used to go when we lived in the UK and if you've never experienced one then you should - at least once. Pantomime has its roots in the Elizabethan court masques but whereas these were lavish, elegant affairs, inspired by mythology and concerned with high ideals and allegories on courtly love, pantomime took as its reference children's stories and was concerned with slapstick and farce. Above all Pantomime is a very noisy and boisterous form of entertainment and demands a great deal of audience participation, such as booing the villain, cheering the heroine and as many 'oh yes it is - oh no it isn't' refrains as humanely possible.
I've taken the story of 'The Three Little Pigs' for my Ugly Sweater Pantomime. I'm playing the Big Bad Wolf and we have three scene changes, so three choices of outfit for one idea. These are:
The Straw House
The Stick House
The Brick House
If you don't know the story then here it is in a very shortened version:
Three little pigs each decide to build a house.
One builds in straw, one in sticks and one with brick.
They have a major problem.. The Big Bad Wolf wants to eat them and he has very powerful lungs and he 'huffs and puffs' and can cause buildings to collapse and so guess which little pig's house stands the test?
They all live happily ever after except the Wolf.
One gaudy sweater - this is my favourite cheap and cheerful one in gold, including sequins.
One faux fur collar
One faux fur hat
A large cardboard box
Straw and hay
Needle and thread
Fruit crate/Orange box
Glue gun and sticks
Organic arrowroot home-made face powder
Step 1: Make the Sets: Straw House
Cut out three rectangular pieces from the cardboard box. The sizes I used were 13" (33cm) wide by 11" (28cm) high.
These pieces form the backing for the Little Pigs' Houses.
Mark out the windows and doors and cut them out of the cardboard rectangles.
For the Straw (Bale) House:
I made individual bales of straw each backed on separate pieces of cardboard.
I used straw and chopped linen for the bales (we had some left over from insulating our walls) and 'tied' them with strands of hay.
I used fruit crate wood for the door, door frame and for a decorative 'beam'.
I used a tenon saw to cut the fruit crate wood.
The individual bales were then glued to the cardboard frame.
I used a cork, which I sliced with my craft knife to make the door knob.
Step 2: Stick House
I used my tenon saw to cut various lengths of fruit crate 'planks' and to cut out my door and window frames.
These I stuck on to my cardboard base with PVA wood glue.
For the thatched roof, I used hay which I made into bundles and tied with hay strands and then glued these to a piece of cardboard the same shape as my cardboard roof base and then glued the whole roof onto the base itself. As an authentic touch to my roof I added a straw peacock - thatchers sign their work with a sculpture in thatch.
I made a window pane from double thickness tissue paper and coloured one layer with felt pens. I cut out shapes in the plain tissue paper to resemble glass panes and then placed this one in the frame with the coloured piece of paper behind so that when the light shone through it would look like stained glass (leaded lights).
Step 3: The Brick House
I used terracotta air dry clay to make various shapes of brick. I rolled it out thinly, cut out my shapes and placed them on a drying rack. I also sculpted a miniature 'Green Man' plaque to hang over the door.
The door was made from fruit crate wood.
The roof, which I attached with chicken wire to the cardboard base was stuffed with dried moss and I also added some sempervivum plants.
Step 4: The Three Little Pigs
The easiest way to make the pigs would have been to buy some felt and make simple finger puppets and I think that would be the most sensible way too!
However, because I have lots of needle felting equipment and supplies I decided to make mine from scratch. I also wanted to create Oxford Sandy and Black heritage breed pigs. My sister has these (video above) and their original name is the 'Plum Pudding Pig', so I thought that would add to the Christmas theme. As old foraging pigs, their blinker-type ears are worn forwards but as these pigs have been surprised by the wolf I thought their ears should be in the upright position!
I used magic/fairy wool as the base for my needle felting. I just pulled out an inch and half to two inches of wool and felted it into a flat square and then joined it with my needles to make a cylinder and then felted it into a pig's head finger puppet.
The ears were made from smaller pieces of square wool, I made a line down the middle and then felted the ear shape around it.
I added the features in Jacob fleece and also a few typical Oxford Sandy and Black spots
Step 5: The Pantomime Sweater & Make-up
I cut two 1" squares of velcro for each of the three Pantomime sets and glued one half of each square to the back of each of the Straw, Stick and Brick House at the level of the roof. I measured the position of these velcro squares and then cut two more squares and sewed the corresponding matching piece of velcro in the correct place on to the sweater, just above the bust line.
When the velcro was matched up I could then get my hands behind each house and my finger puppet pigs could observe the ferocious woof from the relative safety of the door and windows.
I draped the set with battery fairy lights to create a theatrical footlights/spot lights effect.
To change to the following scene in the story the velcro was just peeled back and the next scene hooked on.
I powdered my face with organic arrowroot to give an eerie look to the wolf. I then used the eye liner/eye shadow two-in-one pencil to draw the nose, mouth outline and whiskers. I filled in the mouth outline with lipstick.
Handy tip - cover the fur collar and sweater with a towel to avoid powdering them too!
Hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did!
All the very best and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Sue
Participated in the
Ugly Sweater Speed Challenge