Reimagining Flinderella
One century on, we critically reimagine the forgotten show Flinderella: A Knight in Egypt, staged by UCL students to mark the knighthood of Egyptologist Flinders Petrie in 1923. What has become of it? And who else should we be singing about?

Flinderella original programme cover

In 1923, Egyptologist Flinders Petrie was knighted. To mark the occasion, UCL students wrote him a pantomime: Flinderella: A Knight in Egypt. An anticipated one-night-only spectacular, this gesture was a fond one – but not one without criticism, with barely hidden jabs at ethically dubious practices.

One century later, we revisit this forgotten show with a three-part series, including a reimagined performance. Between investigations on eugenics, decolonial practice and calls for repatriation, what has become of Flinderella? And who else should we be singing about?


In April – May 2024, three events will take place in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian and Sudanese Archaeology to critically reflect on the legacies of Flinders Petrie, archaeological practice then and now, and future trajectories for public archaeology.

Animated Ephemera: Behind the curtains of student dramatic productions at UCL

Thursday 25 April 2024 6-8pm

This panel will discuss the importance of ephemera in archaeology collections giving light to otherwise undocumented historical moments, the place that dramatic productions occupy in UCL history and an insight into past UCL student productions. This event will have complementary tours of ‘Generation UCL: 200 Years of Student Life in London’ led by UCL academics and exhibition curators Georgina Brewis and Colin Penman.

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Flinderella! The Play

Tuesday 30 April 2024 6-8pm

Archive photograph of two students performing in a play, one standing formally and wearing a dinner jacket, and the other in a white top and long dark skirt on one knee in front of him

Join us for a reimagined one-night spectacular of Flinderella, 101 years on from the original performance. Written, produced and performed by UCL students from a mixture of Student Union societies and UCL departments, this play will wittily and provocatively bring the spirit of Egyptologist Flinders Petrie back to life with a contemporary spin.

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What is the future of public archaeology?

Thursday 2 May 2024 6–8pm

Please note this roundtable is open to students and early career archaeologists only

Inspired by UCL students’ satirical take on the legacy of archaeologist Matthew Flinders Petrie through the 1923 revue musical ‘Flinderella: A Knight in Egypt’, this student-focused forum discusses contemporary radicalism in public archaeology. What new ways are being utilised to engage groups in the archaeology of their localities? What can be learnt from a 101-year-old play to question societal norms surrounding archaeological practice that may still be pervasive today? What role do equity, agency and social justice play in public archaeology? Who are the arbiters of these narratives? Expect a lively discussion following the presentation of three case studies on contemporary public archaeology.

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Reimagining Flinderella is co-conceived by Lisa Randisi, Curatorial and Collections Assistant for the Petrie Museum and Sarita Mamseri, Public Programme Manager for UCL Museums. The project is steered with support from Dr Anna Garnett, Curator for the Petrie Museum; George Paris, Content Producer for Programmes; Roberta Livingston-McDonald, theatre producer and playwright and Helen Douglas, Museum Visitor Services Assistant for UCL Museums.

Reimagining Flinderella is part of the season Architecting Futures from Past Traces, exploring the relationships between peoples and cultures, habitats and environments, and imaginary worlds using UCL Collections as source inspiration.

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