Category Archives: Christmas shows

The story so far …

Visit our new page of Exhibitions and Talks and don’t forget that ‘Mike Gray – In Black and White’ photography exhibition is at Chats Palace bar throughout the Summer 2015 as well as the ‘Photographer Unknown’ next door in Chats gallery. Have a lovely Summer!

Mike Gray - In Black and White


Christmas 32 years ago…

“On the opening night itself the audience were welcomed and led into a magical forest glade environment. Having been shown to their tree trunk seats, they were entertained by the outlaw community. With the appearance of Robin and Marion the story began. After much plot and counter plot, farce and ducking down rabbit holes, our hero and heroine managed to defeat the evil Sir Guy of Gisbourne.”
Chats Palace Annual Report on Robbin’ the Rich (Dec 14, 1980 – January 10,1981) 

Click here to see the individual posters

1977 The Wonderful Palace of Nod group

1977 – The Wonderful Palace of Nod

1978 The Thief of Ragbag

1978 – The Thief of Ragbag

1979 The Ice Queen group

1979 – The Ice Queen – “Freeze up Mother Brown’

1980 Robbin' the Rich group

1980 – Robbin’ the Rich

1981 Bluebeard group

1981 – Bluebeard – The Barbary Ghost

1982 Burgerbar Galactica group

1982 – Burgerbar Galactica – ‘May the Sauce be with you’

1983 Things that grow bumps in the night group

1983 – Things that grow Bumps in the Night

1984 Sawdust group

1984 – Sawdust – Who stole the fun of the fair?

1985 Junglenuts group

1985 – Junglenuts – On the tail of the loathsome shrine

1986 Apocalympics group

1986 – Apocalympics! – Who cheats wins

The annual christmas pantomime was the major winter event at Chats Palace for many years. Starting with ‘A Hackney’d Show’ in 1976, there followed more than a decade of large scale community productions. The shows created their own traditions including the legendary last night, where the volunteers kept the cast on tenterhooks by adding to the action such things as live ferrets or worse!

Billie Windows Production Team 1988

‘A Wish for Billie Windows’ – Chats Palace Christmas Show 1988
Production team photo: back row – Rebecca Chester (designer), David Wooley (stage manager), Annie Smol (producer); middle row – Gary Horsman (light+sound+design), Tom Jones (publicity), Susan Chester (costumes); front row – Brian Walker (set builder), Malcolm Fredrick (director), John McGovern (link worker), Jack Bradley (writer)

The Wonderful Palace of Nod

One of the oldest pictures we’ve found so far is this Free Form Art Trust group shot, taken around Christmas 1977, during the production of the Christmas panto ‘The Wonderful Palace of Nod’. Look out for the full selection of Chats Christmas show posters in the near future.

The story of Free Form and its involvement with community arts in Hackney is admirably told in Kate Crehan’s book ‘Community arts: an anthropological perspective’. Kate, an academic at City University of New York is also a long-time friend of two of the organisations’ founders.

© Mike Gray/Chats Palace
Back row: Alex Carr, Kelly Harvey, Joyce (?)
Standing middle row: Steve Simmons, Hazel Goldman, Cilla Baines, Heather Macadam, Barbara Wheeler-Early (with baby), Martin Goodrich, Karen Merkel, Alan May, Felicity Harvest
Seated front row: Rod Brookes (with Zoot the dog), Graham Downes (with Harry the dog), Liz Hocking

If you happen to know anyone in the photo, please ask them to get in touch with us.