Plotting a script.
I have been putting the final touches to a new Aladdin script which has been tremendous fun to write even though it presented some problems in planning the scenario. As a scriptwriter it is important to 'see' the bigger picture and recognise how the story will progress and how it must end even while writing the early scenes.
All had been going well and I was chuckling aloud at some of the crazy scenes that were developing on the pages but then I hit a snag which is often only really a problem in writing in a genre that is required to follow a formula in how it is presented to the audience.I found myself confused in where exactly would be the ideal place for the interval to take place! Now this is serious business in a pantomime and is as important to the audience enjoyment as it is to the telling of the story.'Oh yes it is!'
The place to have the interval is something that usually seems to happen naturally when creating a pantomime script but not this time. In the pantomime genre it is normally accepted that the interval falls at a cliffhanger moment which might leave characters in jeopardy or at a point in the story where although happy at that moment, we need to know the outcome to see if the happiness can be sustained. In pantomime, there is always a villain or two trying to create havoc for their own various reasons who will need to be defeated sooner or later.
In the story of Aladdin, therefore, do we leave Aladdin abandoned, alone and despairing in the cave (in jeopardy) or having rubbed the lamp and met the fabulous Genie and thus being happy and hopeful? At first it seemed obvious that it would be a good place to end ACT I: Aladdin should be left in the cave - poor Aladdin- while whilst the audience queue for their choc ices and chat to each other, stretch their legs and so on... and then in ACT II we could see him escape and look forward to riches and happiness and living happily ever after.
However, in this traditional tale scriptwriters face a dilemma as Aladdin later faces another possible disaster when the villain, through trickery, takes the lamp and everything. I wondered could this scene lead up to the ideal place for an interval instead? If this is the natural break in the story it would leave only a short resolution to the tale and possibly a very short ACT II! However, if the interval takes place earlier while Aladdin is in the cave it would mean that the Genie doesn't appear until the second half of the show. Would an actor wish to spend the whole first half of the pantomime sitting in the dressing room? Also it is often a pantomime convention to have all the cast on stage for a big song/dance routine to end ACT I. What to do? How to do it?
A lot of head scratching was needed, thinking what would create a satisfying and entertaining experience for the audience. Hours and hours of trying out different mini scenarios and reworking possible ideas followed until I was satisfied that I had reached an unusual but pleasing if not slightly quirky solution. I was able to write our hero into a happy position in the cave with the Genie taking a central role and with the audience aware of sinister plans ahead. It was now a perfect time to insert that interval for we had our 'cliff hanger' (and full cast song!) so everyone would be happy.How would you have written the end of ACT I? No, I'm not going to give my scene away! You'll have to wait to read the script to find out!
I love my job!
Bring on the Choc Ices!
The Aladdin script will be available in January 2014. Contact us directly if you want to find out more.