Panto stars attempt chopstick bean world record at Portsmouth theatre amid closure fears
JACK and the Beanstalk panto stars attempted to climb their own mountain by taking part in a bean world record attempt.
Cast currently appearing at Groundlings Theatre’s festive pantomime were among those who embarked on the giant challenge of moving the most beans in a minute with chopsticks.
It was a tall order, though, with a towering record standing at 48 beans a minute.
Despite a brave effort the world record challengers just fell short at the fun event prior to its Saturday night panto.
Director of the theatre, Richard Stride, said the attempt was made as part of a series of activities to help raise funds following vandalism at the theatre at the end of September.
He said of the world record attempt: ‘We didn’t manage to break the record but we gave it a good go and got 70 per cent of the way there. It wasn’t easy trying to move beans with chopsticks.
‘After the vandalism we lost all our marketing and our ideas of what we were going to do to promote the theatre. We had a quick brainstorm and someone mentioned trying the world record attempt with beans, which made sense with us currently having Jack and the Beanstalk at the theatre.’
The world record attempt was one of numerous initiatives staff at the theatre have been undertaking in the last 10 weeks to raise money after £30,000 worth of damage was caused during the vandalism.
Richard revealed he was unsure whether he will recoup anywhere near that amount with the insurance company dragging its heels on coughing up the losses.
In the meantime, a number of community fundraising activities have seen the theatre raise over £6,000. Despite the unstinting efforts, Richard fears it will not be enough to keep the theatre open.
‘I’m not sure if we will be here by this time next year,’ he said. ‘We are doing we all we can but are still threatened by closure. There is a very long way to go if we are to stay open.’
The plight of the theatre has not been helped by Brexit, according to the former Star Wars actor. ‘Brexit has had a big impact on us with over 70 per cent of our staff from the EU,’ Richard said.
‘We have students who come over from all across Europe to get experience of theatre and learn English who do most of the jobs we have.
‘It’s worth about £100,000 to us a year. But unfortunately with Brexit the contracts and facility they had to come here are no longer available. The government only replaces money lost from leaving the EU, it doesn’t replace manpower.
‘They are a vital part of what we do - we can’t replace them or find an extra £100,000.’