Friday, 4 December 2015

Beanstalk Dramaturgy: Sleeping Trees @ Theatre 503

What was the inspiration for this performance?
We were keen to make a version of a pantomime that had a much wider appeal then the ones you see popping up round the country each year. We not only wanted to appeal to a mainstream pantomime audience but a fringe comedy audience too, whilst pleasing children and adults simultaneously
With this in mind we were inspired by a number of things, comedy shows we had seen at the Fringe, children's shows as well as the British tradition of taking the family to a pantomime. It was a big challenge but a thoroughly enjoyable process and we are hugely pleased with the product left at the end of it.  

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
We were initially approached by director Tom Attenborough in 2013 where the idea for the project first came to light. Through his connections as well as our own we were able to assemble a brilliant little team of creative people all of which we are very proud to have working with us. 

We acquired Mark Newnham who writes and performs all the music for the show very last minute and we couldn't be happier or more privileged to have him on board. We don't sing or dance normally in our other work so we must commend Mark's patience with us as well as Polly Bennet and Nancy Kettle our wonderful choreographers.

What made you decide on this particular venue?
We have always been a fan of the work produced at Theatre 503. Over the years they have continued to have an increasing involvement with new writing and experimental theatre. We always knew it was going to be a challenge for us making a pantomime, let alone our very first show suitable for all ages, so we thought there wouldn't be a better platform than 503 to do so.

The Latchmere pub underneath also does an outstanding roast dinner. This had absolutely nothing to do with the decision... 

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
Certainly not. The process was a completely fresh experience for everybody on board. Up until the pantomime (a genre of performance we had never created before) we had not worked with set, costume or props. 

To create Cinderella and the Beanstalk we worked with a director, musician, movement director, stage-fight choreographer band and even a magician to create visual illusions. It was certainly a lot to process at first but so beneficial to make this one of the most exciting shows we have ever created.

The challenge was marrying all these incredibly talented people with our stripped back approach to comedy-theatre and couldn't be more proud to have achieved that.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
The most important thing we wanted to achieve with this show is to get children and adults laughing at the same thing. We were very keen to not to have one joke for the kids then another for the adults. 

We want families to share the experience rather than wait for their turn. We also wanted to stay clear of all of the traditional smut in pantomime. It's not our style and we don't want to alienate kids by having jokes that go over their heads.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
We do. There are plenty of pantomime traditions in our show, some of them are modernised a bit, but there is a lot for pantomime aficionados to recognise. 

At the same time there is a lot of new things being added to the genre, we are originally a fringe theatre style company, so we bring a lot of that into anything we do, we feel this adds something new and fresh which hopefully people haven't seen before, while still being satisfied if they are fans of pantomime traditions.

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