Warwick Davis has slammed a theatre’s decision to replace Snow White’s traditional dwarves in its Christmas panto out of misplaced and patronising political correctness. Leicester’s De Montfort Hall has changed the production’s title to ‘Snow White and her Seven Friends‘ saying ‘dwarf’ is “generally not a word that people feel comfortable with.”
Davis, who himself has a rare form of dwarfism, said he finds it “patronising when people are offended on his behalf”. Standing just 3ft 6in tall, The Leicester Mercury reports he attacked the decision to drop the dwarfs which have been part of the story since it was written in 1812 , saying:
“It loses something if you don’t have Snow White’s dwarves. I’ve been in a lot of pantos and I don’t think it’s offensive at all.
“The excuse of ‘people’ being uncomfortable is a poor one – I doubt they’ve questioned the audience about whether or not they think the word dwarf is offensive…
“I’m sure there are those out there who don’t like the term but as a short actor I want to be given the choice about whether I appear in panto or not. I don’t want someone making that decision for me.”
Davis, whose 30 year career has included roles in Return of the Jedi, Labyrinth, Leprechaun and the Harry Potter movies, claimed that the decision may in fact be a “smokescreen” for cost cutting, letting the theatre employ cheaper actors. He added:
“The profit margins for pantos are not very big and it’s obviously much cheaper to involve schoolchildren than it is to pay lots of professional short actors.”
The Daily Mail reports that writing on De Montfort Hall’s Facebook page, Antonia Doyle wrote: “Have a word with yourself, De Montfort Hall. By not having the seven dwarfs means that you’re putting seven little men/women out if a job this year.
“Stop being a killjoy and just stick by plan A, sack the idiot who came up with this ludicrous idea and get a life rather than bringing unnecessary disappointment to the kids and making an issue out of something that isn’t.”
Leicester’s production is not the only one to drop dwarfs from Snow White. The Scunthorpe Telegraph reports the production of Snow White to be shown at The Plowright Theatre this Christmas has also removed the ‘seven dwarfs’ from its title. Scunthorpe pantomime dame Darren Johnson (who plays Annie Fanny), admitted he had not “even noticed” the title had been changed before it was pointed out to him, saying:
“For me, the story is about Snow White and the seven dwarfs are secondary characters. It is not for any political correctness.”