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Petitioning The Playhouse, Norwich

Call for The Playhouse, Norwich, to stop the production of Jack the Ripper the Pantomime.

“With Jack about you can expect plenty of thigh slapping, lots of audience participation and a fair helping of prostitute evisceration!” reads the description of Jack the Ripper the Panto’s description of its main character. Defined as a “pantomime that [is not] a pantomime”, JtRtP promises to be a hilarious adult story.

There’s just one problem with that. As fictional as the storyline of the pantomime may be, Jack the Ripper was not a fictional character, and judging by the hints and clue’s on the play’s website, http://www.jacktheripperthepanto.com/, they certainly are not shying away from his reputation. Featuring characters such as Uncle Buttons – “a leering, filthy, brothel owner and Cinderella’s dirty uncle” – JtRtP looks to be just another caricature of female-based violence, abuse, and murder. If anything, Spooky Kid Productions could have at the very least used a fictional character, instead of one who is only known due to the very real historical violent acts he committed against sex workers.

We, the undersigned, are fed up with watching the very real risks and challenges that come with being a woman being turned into a joke. As much as Spooky Kid Productions wishes to pride itself on alternative and adult entertainment, what they have actually done is created a show which makes a mockery of violence against sex workers, violence against women – and vilifies those who perpetuate those things. Just by laughing at a joke that is about rape or is derogatory towards women, the audience are participating in rape culture.

According to Rape Crisis UK, approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that's roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour. Nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year. 1 in 5 women aged 16 - 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16. And according to http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/, Each year across the UK up to 3 million women experience, including: domestic violence, rape and sexual violence, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, crimes in the name of honour, trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Does that really seem like something to joke about?

We call for The Playhouse, Norwich, to cease selling tickets and allowing Jack the Ripper the Panto to be performed on their premises. Do not perpetuate rape culture more than it already is within our society. Do not desecrate the memories of the real-life victims of Jack the Ripper by turning him into the good-guy protagonist of a sexist and misogynistic stage show.

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