Many people who write for a living often talk about "writers' block" or times when inspiration just won't materialise and the pen lies unused.
It does happen but often it isn't really 'a block' but more of an inability to sort out plot ideas.
To make the situation worse I find that often my head is full of ideas for other stories and I have an inability to put these ideas, zinging and zapping in my brain, to one side until later.
This makes it difficult if not nigh impossible to concentrate on the task in hand!
Let me explain. In the script Goldilocks and the Three Bears on which I'm supposed to be working at the moment, the whole scenario is planned, scenes set, characters developed (sounds like all is going well doesn't it?) but there is a snag... a niggle, something that has caused a blockage in the flow of the story. The characters have realised that the villain is about to change all their lives and the Circus that they all were part of may have to close.(I'm not giving any more away than that!) Goldilocks (Goldie) is angry hurt and upset (well you would be too!) and runs away into the forest to be alone- you can see where this is going!
This scene by the nature of the story boarding already done (I'm nothing if not organised) should lead neatly to the interval. End on a touch of a cliff-hanger, leave the audience wanting more while they queue for their ice-creams- Okay- now here is the problem. Why would Goldie stay away all night in a forest where there is the risk of bumping into bears ? (We know that's possible- we've seen them already and she's a bright girl!) Do I allow the other characters to find out she is in possible jeopardy and end on a low or end the scene on a positive note and a song and leave the danger to be explained in ACT II?
I could thrash out some scenarios as to the whys and wherefores if I could think clearly as after all it's not an earth shattering problem but as recently we received a commission to write a ten minute manic pantomime based on Dick Whittington and ... yes... I just had to do it because yesterday I woke up with the script already written in my head, Goldilocks had to wait!
What's the problem, you may ask- the ten minute panto' is finished- so I can return to 'Goldilocks'.
I would have done just that but this morning I woke up (here we go again) with the full scenario for the Crazy story of Jekyll and Hyde! (Where did that come from?) buzzing around in my head. I had been planning to write it and already had made notes and jotted down some ideas quite a while ago but not planned to write the text yet! I'm writing Goldilocks at the moment- aren't I?
Try as I might Jekyll and Hyde isn't going to go away! I can see the characters and hear them speak. (I'm chuckling too- yes this will be comedy- it is after all a pantomime- trust me!) Ah well, nothing for it then but to leave poor Goldilocks again and write down these crazy ideas tumbling around in my brain and fighting to get out!
Writers block? Not really... Just too many ideas and not enough hours in the day!
Watch this space and Goldie, hang on in there, (look out for the bears) we will rescue you... and the plot!
Read more Blogs! Click on the links below ...
Another Crazy Week
Meeting Audience Expectations
What Really Is A Pantomime?
Should Some Pantomimes Come With A 15 Certificate?
Sunday 26th October... musings on the past week.
Sunday night... and it was quiet here in the Den. It usually is fairly quiet from a Crazy Fox point of view as it has been our policy generally to be twitterless and facebook free for at least one day a week. The addictive nature of social media does mean one of us might just check it out to see what 'tweeps', friends and 'followers are doing...( they're behind you!) just in case we need to show a presence... reply or acknowledge a tweet. Maybe we just don't want to miss out on anything exciting even on a possible day off!
It has been said that theatre people don't work normal hours and days (how true!) and as many of our contacts are working on weekends it would be less than prudent not to at least 'check in'!
It is often on weekend strangely enough that we receive most requests for preview scripts and as we like to answer all emails within 24 hours it means that Sunday although quiet is in reality not really a day off (Admin' never sleeps!)
However, Sunday is often a good day to collect our thoughts on what has happened during the previous week and prepare and plan for the next week. So what has happened in the past week in the world of the pantomime mad, script writing crazy foxes? Statistics show that we had a flurry of activity on our website on Wednesday and Thursday. What was special about those days... was it in response to our promotional tweets? We hope so... and following the interest shown three more scripts were requested for preview. There are foxy fingers crossed in the Den!
The data we reviewed this week shows that the Wizard of Oz is now the most requested script from our collection pushing Aladdin into second place. Requests for our Peter Pan script, faithful to the original story but full of fun and our trademark quirkiness, are increasing and we have received some fabulous feedback so that makes us happy!
Scripts are emailed out and often we do not hear anything for weeks, sometimes months until we think... okay, they didn't like this one but that's okay, you can't win 'em all! Only much later we find out that a particular script has been well received after all! It's at this point we become very excited as we send out the un-watermarked scripts for copying and hard copy scripts with tech' details, song suggestions, staging and scene options and cast and scene details and know that somewhere out there a group of people, hopefully, are about to have fun producing one of our scripts and bringing it to life on stage. They sometimes send us free tickets! (Foxy grins all around!)
Script-writing activities this week have all been about working towards the completion of our latest script, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. A few late night writing sessions, furrowed brows and a few more wispy grey hairs appeared as the few remaining plot details were argued, agreed and refined. It will be finished and sent for critique reading next week. 'Oh yes it will!' (Sorry! - couldn't resist- well we are pantomime folk!)
During the week we were commissioned to write a manic (it will be!) ten minute pantomime for four or five cast, to be part of a larger cabaret evening. We've never done this before so this should be challenging but great fun- we hope! Also this past week we have been searching for photographs of our two scriptwriters when they first met 'on stage' (where it all began!) over twenty six years ago. These photographs are to be submitted to accompany an article that may be written about us in a theatrical publication... but more about that if and when it happens. Trawling through the photographs though provided a real trip down memory lane and amidst the laughter reminded us all why we love this fabulous genre that is pantomime.
It's been a good week!
Time for Some Updates
It has been a while since our last blog! It isn't that we haven't been writing or commenting about life in the slightly weird world of the Crazy Fox, (Twitter followers will realise that- just look how many foxy twitterings have appeared!) we have been writing but we have been uploading all our witterings to Facebook and Twitter.
Realising this, we began to muse about the growth of social media and the modern way of promoting a business through it by creating a platform, developing a profile and just 'putting yourself out there'!
Twitter has become a very useful tool in a raising a profile and can be a very addictive way of marketing. We are learning to become more patient and let customers come to us. That doesn't mean that we don't promote our scripts - we do. It is necessary to remain in the public eye and yet we are wary of overkill and filling up our followers' Twitter feeds with constant marketing and promoting.
Finding that sometimes 140 characters can be limiting on Twitter we decided to develop a Facebook Page. It is possible to write more on Facebook (which in itself might not necessarily be a good thing!)
In learning these new skills in using social media we found out how to share specific Facebook ramblings by creating a link to Twitter, thus not being constrained by the140 characters. Don't you just love this modern technology?
While we have been spending time playing with media we haven't forgotten that our primary purpose is to create a website to display and market all our pantomime scripts. Nor have we been idle in the development of new scripts.
The Jack and the Beanstalk script was completed and as soon as it was available it was previewed and selected as the pantomime choice for a group in Suffolk. We wish them well with it.
The new script of The Princess and the Pea was written, critiqued and recently made available on the website and Goldilocks and the Three Bears is nearing completion. The Story of Pinocchio and the The Little Match Girl are in early planning stages but will be written and available at the end of 2014 or early 2015.
(It's becoming easy to see why we have had less time to be writing blogs on the website!)
There are now thirteen available scripts and three more coming soon. We are looking forward to seeing five of our scripts in production this season so far (I hope we get tickets!) and all scripts have been requested for preview so we have our fingers crossed! We love it when one of our scripts comes to life on stage and although some may choose not to use one of our scripts, that's fine too... you can't please everyone!
So all is exciting and busy in the world of the Crazy Fox! Oh... just remembered- Must pop on Twitter and Facebook and tell them the news!
Two new scripts on their way!
A new script of Jack and the Beanstalk has just been completed, albeit in first draft to add to our other new script of Aladdin. It has been a busy time with little respite from being tied to the lap-top. Our script writer has become a mouse potato which is the modern internet media obsessed answer to a couch potato!
It is time for a very necessary break from script writing . It really does help to step away from it for a while to go out and exercise a little or take a walk or two. Both scripts need careful re-reading and editing but not yet! It is difficult to be objective when you have had to be so subjective in such an intense way for a long time.
We know from experience that when we return to the scripts we will find errors, plot holes, maybe so large you can drive a truck through. (We hate it when that happens!) There may be characters that are under developed or whose motivation is a clear as mud. It happens too. The script that we first thought was so funny, cleverly plotted and exciting suddenly can seem very raw and incomplete. The point is not to panic. We tell ourselves : It’s our story... it can be fixed and we are the ones to do it! And we will... later.
A well planned script will have had rewrites and been shared with 'critical' readers, edited and refined. If it hasn't then you can bet your bottom dollar it isn't ready to be launched to the wider world.
Of course while we are waiting to be able to complete these scripts we could take that well needed break by starting to write Peter Pan!
'Oh yes we could!'
Watch this space!
New Year Greetings from all at Crazy Fox Pantomimes
We hope that you have had a fun filled and successful Season of Shows and events. In planning for new Shows for the 2014/15 season we here in the world of the crazy fox have been working hard to be able to offer competitively priced, family friendly pantomime scripts with a traditional feel but more than a few nods to modern life! We can provide additional Stand Alone Scenes for larger casts at no extra cost. We also offer great deals to amateur dramatic groups who are producing a short run of performances.
We offer all our full length scripts complete with licence and a flat rate royalty fee in a simple one off payment. We don't expect you to pay to use a script that you haven't read so you can request a preview script of any title free of charge… we really hope you’ll like what you read!
Our goal is to offer great scripts with simple, affordable licences that have no strings attached.
Our scripts are £20 per performance inclusive of licence and flat rate royalty fee. Why not check us out at http://crazyfoxpantomimes.com/
We might just have what you are looking for… what have you got to lose?
Choose to read any script
We hope that you’ll like it
And laugh a lot each time
And want a Crazy Fox Pantomime!
Celia Fox Contact us...
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.
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...
I have been burning the midnight oil again today, well almost (It was 2.am yesterday!) but have finally finished the first draft of a new Sleeping Beauty script. It proved more difficult than I expected as I really wanted to develop some new twists and create some quirky ideas within it without spoiling the traditional story.
It's sometimes a fine line to tread in trying to create something different in a traditional pantomime script but still let the original fairy tale come through and not be overwhelmed by side stories. Let's hope it's turned out fine. I say that because it needs to be left now for days if not a week or two so we can return to edit and redraft it with fresh eyes and take on constructive criticism. Only then can it start to 'be fine'.
There may be hours and hours, over days and days, of tweaking, rewrites and reworking rhyming couplets so that they sparkle as well as scan! In the world of the crazy fox that's how we do it; write the story first and then develop the fun, slapstick, jokes and those quirky bits. It is then proof read, critiqued (that can be nerve wracking!) and then we do it again and again until we feel it is right... until it makes us all laugh out loud.We keep at it until we are happy to set it free on an unsuspecting world and hope it makes others laugh too.
While the Sleeping Beauty script goes through its further development, Aladdin and Jack and the Beanstalk are still waiting to be completed so there is always more fresh writing to be done. It's tough sometimes... well actually... oh no, it's not!
I love every aspect of script writing, I really do. It can be frustrating and all consuming but I find it so rewarding and fun to create something that I am really passionate about.
It's a good place to be in loving what you do in life and recognizing how lucky you are to be able to do it.
Long may it last!
As wild windy days with sharp rain showers are happening with greater frequency, we can only look back with fond memories of summer sun and seaside fun. Looking forward to the approaching seasons, I realise how quickly buckets and spades, T-shirts and strappy sandals give way to chunky knitwear and warm slippers.
Spending some time in the world of the Twitterati it is easy to see how people's minds quickly focus on the next best thing now we have to accept that summer is over. Twitter is awash with news and snippets of dance auditions and cast announcements for Christmas pantomimes. Launches for these seem to get earlier every year and many companies have posted cast photos as they promote their shows.
It all seems sorted and organised... scripts must have been delivered to eager actors, techies making plans, tickets being printed and programmes produced amongst other things and it is only September. A little crazy? Well let's be honest here...in the world of the crazy fox we have to admit to being a little excited ourselves- no let's be honest as we said - we are actually VERY EXCITED! Keep that Panto' flag flying! We are counting the days.
I'm often sitting in the wee small hours planning out the scenario and characters for a new pantomime - as you do - and wondering if a checklist would be useful to determine necessary criteria to be met in order for a stage show to be accepted into the genre known as British Pantomime.
(Sometimes sleep would be useful too- but sometimes elusive!)
We probably all think we know what goes to making a pantomime but do we?
Can a stage show really be called a pantomime if certain traditions are not met? How many of the historical traditions need to be in a show for it to claim to be a pantomime?
As it was obvious that sleep was going to elude me (again!) I started thinking about the Wizard of Oz and how when written as a pantomime there isn't usually a 'Dame' character, that wonderful portrayal of a female characters by a male actor with excessive make up, elaborate wig and creatively crazy costumes!
I know that some productions do have a Dame playing as Aunty Em but of course she is never to be found in the Land of Oz and thus precluded from most of the story. The character of Aunty Em and the Good Witch can be doubled up by the same actor in pantomime but I'm not sure that having the Dame as an immortal is a good idea- but that could be a whole new question!
Does every Panto' have to have a Dame and similarly does every Panto' have to have a principal boy played as is traditional by a girl? (Something that seems to be less prevalent particularly in professional pantomimes)
So if a script doesn't have a Dame or Principal boy is it a true pantomime?
Maybe it's enough for example for the script to have a traditional ghost joke or plenty of slapstick routines and audience participation or a good and bad witch firing barbed comments across the stage to each other.
The British tradition of pantomime may be more of a collective experience where actors regularly break through that fourth wall and involve the audience rather than a selection from historical traditions.
It is certainly open for discussion but I suppose as long as all age groups can share a fun experience and leave the theatre laughing and singing then in the end - does it really matter?
I'd been thinking about writing my Aladdin script for days. ideas had been fizzing and jumping around in my brain and a voice seemed to cry " Write me down for ye shall have no peace until ye do!" So I sat down in my favourite writing chair. I flexed my typing fingers and I chuckled to myself. I'd start today with that funny little scene with the genie in the cave, the ideas made me smile every time I thought of the dialogue that I could create between the characters. Must hurry then, as the ideas were buzzing crazily around in my head demanding to be written down before my crowded brain lost the plot -literally! So when I started typing I wrote more of the magical story of Aladdin... right? Wrong!
It could have been plain sailing but I should have known better because before the scene of Aladdin was written, the story of Sleeping Beauty, characters, situations, comedy and laughs, exploded like popping corn in a hot pan, zapping new ideas wildly into my head which wouldn't go away!
There was nothing else to do but to leave Aladdin inside the cave and create a new folder on the computer for the Sleeping Beauty, and let those ideas tumble out onto the page. In three days ACT I was written. I don't know where the ideas sprang from but spring they did! There will be re-writes and edits of course and ACT II will develop easily enough because the characters are beginning to tell their own stories and experience their own journeys. I don't know how it all happens but it does and it is so satisfying and such fun when it does happen. Aladdin can wait but I'm sure it won't be for too long before he comes knocking on the door demanding for his story to be told as well.
As I shut down my computer for another night, actually seeing every character in my mind's eye, it makes me smile to know they'll be waiting for me again tomorrow, and I realise how lucky I am to be doing this job.