Sunday, 15 January 2012

Adventures in Pantoland!

Hello everyone,

I am sorry for lack of posting recently. I have been super busy with pantomime rehearsals and performances. This pantomime with Rainbow theatre company has proven quite a challenge. We were only given 3 full days of rehearsals and then it was straight on the road with the show. Talk about being thrown in the deep end! Also the rehearsal process lacks a vital part of any panto performance: audience participation. The first shows become the proper learning experiences on how to handle an audience. Feel a bit sorry for the audiences on the first day, they were getting an slightly incomplete product in my view. A dress rehearsal with a real audience would have  but then again I think many actors feel like that in other performances as well.

Our tour consisted of schools and children of all ages. The atmosphere in every school was different. Some schools love the panto and get so excited about participating that it takes all your skills as an actor to get your lines out and the play moving. Other schools have children so polite they sat quietly and attentively that it takes improvisation skills to keep the show going. It was fascinating how differently we were treated by the teachers in different schools as well. Others held us in high regard and drowned us in tea and biscuits and thankyou's other treated us as performing monkeys: annoiying but necessary to keep the kids entertained with no respect for our craft. We were even asked by one school to cut our performance short. I'd like to see how the children would appreciate an unfinished pantomime.

During our tour I stayed in the windy seaside town of Worthing. Every morning of the tour we woke up at the crack of dawn and scramble into our rented 4x4 that served as our tour bus and of we went to our given destination. Four people crammed into a car with props and costumes and a soundsystem (a cv player and an amp) made for a snug ride. It was an adventure to say the least. A hearty sense of humor, high tolerance to stress (our satnav broke after the first day on tour!), a cornucopia of vitamins and numerous cans of energy drink are essential in surviving We had two to three performances a day and most in different venues.

There is a particular pleasure in playing the villain.You always get a reaction. People love hating you. I entered the stage with uproaring "boo"s. I even made a few kids cry uncontorably which made me feel awful. Then again I knew I was doing a good job.

After our last performance before the costumes were taken off some memories needed to be cherished.

Doing a panto is NOT an easy job. With insufficient time to do vocal warm ups we were hoping our voices would last until the last show of the day. But with hard work comes great rewards. My day was made by kids high-fiving me and complementing me. "You were epic and amazing!" It makes me smile to think our show made some kids day. After the tour I spent two weeks at my parents' house relaxing and recovering from the toll it took on me. Will I do it again next year? I would have to think about it but I knowing me I would end up saying yes.

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