As well as working as a producer at Glasgow’s Britannia Panopticon, the world’s oldest-surviving music hall, Grant F Kidd also acts and writes. He tells Giverny Masso about his production of Puss in Boots, this year’s pantomime at the Panopticon
Tell me about your involvement in Puss in Boots.
This year I’ll be playing Queen Euphemia, and I also wrote and directed the panto. We’ve got a really good cast this year, it’s going really well. We chose Puss in Boots because it is one of the few surviving traditional pantos, and we wanted something from that era, which it is. It fits in because it could have been performed in music halls. Cinderella would not work in here. There’s other stuff I have written previously, and then someone said we want to do a panto in this building. For most people, panto is their first experience of live theatre. Panto is something for the whole family: kids go as well as grandparents.
What are the biggest challenges for you working on this production?
I have to remember that I don’t have three trap doors, flying equipment, and smoke machines. It’s about trying to get the panto magic without having to rely on special effects. I don’t find it too challenging but other people do because they need me standing next to them.
What is special about the Britannia Panopticon?
When you come in you don’t want to leave. It’s the history. Most music halls burnt down, and the ones that did survive have been renovated so many times. The Britannia still has the magic of the Victorian times. This panto is a fundraiser for the panopticon, which will help fund heating for it – at the moment we are just wrapping up warm!
How did you get into the industry?
I studied acting and performance at Coatbridge College (Lanarkshire), and since then I did different bits of acting work as well as working as an arts administrator, getting young people into the creative industries. [Acting] was always something I enjoyed and have been quite good at. I did a lot of amateur stuff, which gave me a lot of roles I would not have played professionally. A lot of people say ‘you don’t want to be type cast’, but I find most good character roles are for people in their 40s. I am going to be playing the dame or ugly sister, I am better at playing those. I enjoy those roles that are more fun to play. It is more fun to run across the stage playing a bubbling idiot than a boring bank employee.
Tell me about your arts administration work?
I made the decision I was not going to make [acting] into a career in itself, I was happy doing arts administration and I still am. I produce variety shows across the UK, and I get as much enjoyment getting other people into the theatre industry as doing it myself. I’ve also been involved in a youth arts programme which involved working with young people to start their own creative businesses. [Getting young people into the arts] is something which is very, very important, getting them involved in some way and giving them exposure to the creative industries. Life is hard, and the arts give you that sense of escapism.
Training: HND in acting and performance at Coatbridge College in Lanarkshire (2011)
First professional role: Played Peter in Romeo and Juliet at Ayr Gaiety Theatre (2013)
Puss in Boots is at the Britannia Panoptican, Glasgow from December 8-23