Friday, October 12, 2018

October and the serious business of pantomime

I managed to deliver the manuscript of Murder and the Pantomime Cat by September 30th, as requested by my publishers, and its release date will be November 22nd. Since then, I have been rather taken up by the next project, which, of course, is pantomime.

I shan't completely ignore Libby, Fran and the others, as I have to start thinking about the next full length book, but that isn't out until next August (I would prefer it to be earlier!) and due for delivery in the spring, so although I might have to go hell for leather from the middle of January, after months of wondering why on earth I'd taken this on, having officially retired from directorial responsibilities in 2007, I'm beginning to enjoy it, despite the many problems that have already cropped up.

In the same way that the public don't understand the life of a writer, neither do they understand theatre. Pantomime is something they go to see either in December or January and it doesn't occur to them that preparation for it probably starts at the end of the last one. To stage a pantomime - or any theatre production, really - the building itself must be fully staffed. Bar, sweets and ice creams, front of house and stewards, cleaners, box office - the list goes on. Then for the production, lighting designer, riggers and operators, sound designers and operators, set designers and builders, stage manager, assistant stage manager, stage crew. And music. Mine is being recorded specially, and luckily my MD (musical director) is a close friend, so he's going beyond the bounds of his contract to help.

Then there's the cast, which I haven't finalised yet, the chorus, the singing coach - if the MD isn't doing it - and choreographer.  And guess what? Out of all that lot, if any of it goes wrong it's down to the director/producer. Me. And I also happen to be the writer, so I'll get the blame for the script, too.

If it's good, everyone else gets praised and the director wipes the sweat off his/her brow and creeps away to collapse in a heap. In the bigger theatres there will be a few more staff to prop up the director, but we can't afford it. We own our theatre, which is a little Victorian gem with state of the art facilities, all of which have to be maintained, and that's a full time job in itself.
Which is why, in 2007, I "retired". By that time, the Libby books were taking off and I was - ahem - getting older, and couldn't cope with two full time jobs at once, as I had in previous years. So tell me why I've done so this year?

Simple answer. I LOVE it.


Gilli Allan said...

Love your post, Lesley. If only I lived nearer I'd come to see your panto. I'm sure it will be a smash. x

Colette McCormick said...

Love a panto. I agree with Gilli - it'll be great.

Anna Legat said...

Ditto! I love a Christmas panto and will flock my family every year to see one. It will be brilliant!