Kathryn Ashill 

Principal Boy (Lost Youth)

ft Pester & Rossi

2019 Comissioned by Radiophrenia. Performed on air and to a live audience at the CCA, Glasgow.

"Principal Boy (Lost Youth) is a performance that laments the passing of Ashill’s youth, and the demise of the Principal Boy in pantomime.

The long-standing tradition of the Principal Boy in pantomime begun as a way to navigate strict laws in early theatre prohibiting the use of child actors and female performers. As a result women took up the role of the male protagonist in a ‘Breeches Role’. This was a rare opportunity for an actress in the 20th century to bare their legs. Although less common in the modern day panto, women still regularly take centre stage to play Peter Pan. Thigh slapping is a classic trope of the Principal Boy, the physical and sexual act of emphasising your speech or emotion through whacking your thigh.

Ashill’s work marries the imagery of pantomime, the principal boy and peter pan as a way of reclaiming space and reconnecting with her youth. She hopes to be one of the Lost Boys.

“My thigh slapping days are over…”


Filmmaker: Radiophrenia

© Kathryn Ashill 2022