Dai’s reportage: Christmas in Chester (3)

Saturnalia - 3The Saturnalia….. and ….. Tip Top’s ‘Aladdin’

After the Winter Watch Parades comes the celebration of the Roman Festival of the Saturnalia in honour of their god Saturn; this originally took place on 17th December. Nowadays it is fitting that a city sited on a Legionary fortress should again ring to the tramp of Roman boots. In fact, their torches light up the streets, and they are joined by a host of Celts and local Iron Age tribes folk.  As before, I tried to catch the ‘getting ready’, and behind the scenes rather than the procession itself.

Saturnalia - 2 -The armour the  legionaries wear is quite intricate and layered, and often needs a helping hand to fasten it in place…..from segmented shoulder protectors, and breast plates…… to the intricate helmet with cheek-pieces and neck guard.

Saturnalia - 4 - Roman Legionaries

The year I did these drawings the column of troops reached Eastgate Street and the Emperor himself addressed the watching crowds; the Rows packed with people as if at the Amphitheatre.

Saturnalia - 1 emperor

Once the procession was back at the Grosvenor Museum, various scenes were played out and then the participants relaxed.  Two Celts asked me for a quick drawing, so here are Bryon, wise warrior in plaid…

Saturnalia - 5 - Bryon

and a thoughtful member of the Deceangli Tribe of North East Wales.

Saturnalia - 6 - Celt DecangliAlso in the Museum, children and parents took part in a workshop to produce Phrygian caps…. ideal for the cold air of that evening.

Saturnalia - 7 - Lantern & Phrygian hat  workshop

That same Christmas I was allowed in to sketch at a rehearsal of the pantomime ‘Aladdin’ by Tip Top Productions at the Studio Theatre……

Chester Pantomime 1

It wasn’t always easy to draw the stage activities as the seating area was mostly in darkness, but it was an really enjoyable session.  Let’s begin with a lively dance and then move on to some of the Panto’s characters.

Chester Pantomime 2 rehersal

Firstly the villain of the story, the wicked uncle….

Chester Pantomime 4 - Abanazar

……. the beautiful Princess  Jasmine…..


Chester Pantomime 5 - Princess Jasmine.……the exuberant Widow Twankey and her laundry…..

Chester Pantomime 6 - Widow Twanky

…… the magic of the Slave of the Ring…….

Chester Pantomime 9

the villain appears in disguise as a seller of pots……

Chester Pantomime 8 - New lamps for old

and all ends happily in a whirl of dancing.

Chester Pantomime 7

Thanks to  Peter, the Director for letting me and my pad in………

Chester Pantomime 10 - Peter Director & Assistant

That’s all Folks….. here’s a sketch done just off the Duke’s Drive……..

Christmas 2014 - Dai







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