Meeting Audience Expectations!
I was putting the finishing touches to some updates of the Aladdin pantomime script when I paused to take a tea break and as I bit into the second biscuit (Chocolate) I began to consider the prospective audience. As the children, parents, grandparents and all settle down to wait for curtain up, what might be their expectations? For most children it could be likely that they expect to see 'Disney' on stage, something most if not all pantomime scriptwriters will have done their best to avoid too closely! So will the children be disappointed?
Each pantomime scriptwriter will try to find something innovative to develop within a traditional story, whether it be characters or scenarios in order to entertain and surprise the audience and these then (as with Disney) become the copyright of the scriptwriter. A fine line needs to be drawn, however, between being creative and not totally changing the original story. For example how might an audience react to a Cinderella who elopes with Buttons? A scenario I felt should have happened in a pantomime I saw some years ago when the Buttons was funny, good looking, loyal and clever and quite honestly Prince Charming was a wimp! It's an idea but it could be taking too many liberties with people's expectations and thus disappoint those who have chosen to go and see a traditional and well known Pantomime. I would love to write it though... just for fun!
As I chose another biscuit or two (Why not? Writing can be hard work sometimes and we all deserve a treat... it might even help the creativity!) I began to think about the possibility of writing completely new pantomimes not based on any traditional tales. I wondered if this would be less attractive to the panto-going audience who might be reticent to spend money on tickets for something so totally unknown. If the choice for example was to take the children to see Jack and The Beanstalk or 'The Blueberry Princess' (I haven't written it yet... but I probably will!) One wonders which pantomime would sell the most tickets.
I reflected on the fact that there are some pantomimes being written that are not reliant on retelling fairy tales but based on classic novels, or historical legends of which a prospective audience already have some knowledge, such as Camelot or Pride and Prejudice. I began to speculate whether it is possible to write a pantomime version of any story? Now that's a whole new topic for another day!
Maybe pantomime sequels could be the next best thing, written using recognisable characters in totally new scenarios. The possibilities are appealing - Sleeping Beauty 2 (The Witch is back and 'Oh Boy' is she angry!) for example?
Or, how about - Cinderella 2? Maybe as Cinderella arranges her delicate wedding veil about her golden curls and begins to contemplate whether she has made the right decision in marrying a prince, who let's face it, she hardly knows, Buttons is already putting up that ladder outside her window!
As I put down my empty cup of tea and brushed away the biscuit crumbs, I wondered if my new Aladdin script will be innovative enough to surprise both adults and children alike but traditional enough to meet expectations. I still had lots to think about - and was that the germ of an idea for Aladdin 2 (Abanazer's Revenge) I could feel already beginning to grow?
Maybe I should put the kettle on to boil again and open another pack of biscuits...